Horror Film Review: War of the Colossal Beast (dir by Bert I. Gordon)

Look who’s back! He’s big. He’s bald. He’s now missing a bit of his face and an eye. He doesn’t look too good but still…. it’s Glenn Manning!

When we last saw Lt. Col. Glenn Manning in 1957’s The Amazing Colossal Man, he had grown to become a giant as the result of getting caught up in a nuclear blast. He had also gone totally mad and, after attempting to destroy America’s greatest city (Las Vegas, if you had to ask), he promptly fell off the Boulder Dam. Everyone assumed he was dead.

They assumed wrong.

1958’s War of the Colossal Beast (which came out a year after The Amazing Colossal Man) opens with the discovery that Glenn is still alive and he’s still wandering around in the desert. Of course, as the title suggests, he’s no longer a man. Now, he’s a crazed beast! Not only is he missing an eye and several teeth but he can no longer speak in intelligible words. Whatever bit of mind he had left when he went over the side of Boulder Dam, he lost it all when he landed.

That’s not to say that the beast that was once Glenn doesn’t have memories. In fact, a good deal of this film’s 69 minute run time is made up of flashbacks to The Amazing Colossal Man. It’s just that Glenn can’t figure out what those flashbacks mean. Perhaps it’s because Glenn is now played by an actor named Dean Parkin while the flashbacks all feature a totally different actor in the role.

Anyway, Glenn is once again captured by the army and once again, he manages to escape. This time, Glenn leaves Vegas alone and instead attacks Los Angeles and Hollywood. Spare the film industry, Glenn! It’s up to the army and Glenn’s sister to once again try to convince Glenn to stop ripping the city apart. Of course, they could just try to convince him to fall off another dam….

Like the first film, War of the Colossal Beast was directed by Bert I. Gordon. War of the Colossal Beast isn’t as much fun of The Amazing Colossal Man, largely because Glenn can no longer speak so, other than in the flashbacks to the first film, we don’t get any tortured monologues about the unfairness of it all. That said, the Colossal Beast make-up is actually pretty effective and I’m sure many kids in the 50s had nightmares about having to escape from a one-eyed giant.

War of the Colossal Beast will be best appreciated by people who have seen the first film and who are looking for some sort of closure to Glenn’s tragic growth spurt. God knows that when I first watched The Amazing Colossal Man, I went outside after it was over and I shook my hands at the sky and I shouted, “DAMN YOU! I NEED MORE GLENN!” The main lesson of these films is that you should never try to rescue anyone in the desert. If Glenn hadn’t tried to save that pilot who crashed in the nuclear testing site, Vegas and Hollywood would never have been destroyed. It’s something to think about.

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