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Giant from the Unknown

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1958; vt Giant from Devil's Crag). Screencraft Enterprises/Astor Pictures Corporation. Produced by Arthur A Jacobs. Written by Frank Hart Tauss and Ralph Brooke. Directed by Richard E Cunha (credited as Richard Cunha). Makeup by Jack Pierce. Cast includes Morris Ankrum, Buddy Baer, Sally Fraser and Ed Kemmer (credited as Edward Kemmer). 77 minutes. Black and white.

In the sixteenth century, Vargas the Giant (Baer) – a depraved, degenerate Conquistador of great size – and a few comrades are a rebel faction within the Spanish Ptolemy Firello Expedition in California. They disappear into the mountains, never to be seen again in that era. Centuries later, the Scientist Dr Frederick Cleveland (Morris) and his daughter Janet (Fraser) come looking for the remains of Vargas. In a small town they meet Wayne Brooks (Kemmer), a local fellow who is interested in Suspended Animation and has discovered a lizard which has apparently survived thousands of years entombed in solid rock. Having a common interest with Dr Cleveland in the legend of Vargas, plus a personal interest in Janet, Brooks joins them in the search. A lightning bolt strikes the ground where Vargas has also been buried, reviving him from lizard-like suspended animation; the giant proceeds to terrorize the area killing livestock for food, and committing murders apparently for simple enjoyment. It is implied that he has brutally raped a young local woman before killing her off-screen. Impervious to bullets, perhaps a side-effect of his entombment, Vargas is finally knocked from a dam into a volcanic lake at the climax, and destroyed. There are indications as the film ends that a romantic relationship has developed between Wayne and Janet.

Richard Cunha directed several sf films in the 1950s including Missile to the Moon (1958); none of them were very good. Giant from the Unknown is one of the (slightly) better examples, thanks to the solid cast. [GSt]


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