This comedic sci-fi movie was released on October 20, 1965. It was the first color film to feature people growing to superhuman heights. Village of the Giants followed 1957’s “The Amazing Colossal Man,” 1958’s “Attack of the 50 Foot Woman,” and 1959’s “The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock,” which were all black and white.
(Technically speaking it also followed 1958’s “War of the Colossal Beast,” sequel to “The Amazing Colossal Man,” but in that black and white film the titular character is already a giant and does not change size.)
This starred a young Ron Howard as a super smart boy called “Genius.” Beau Bridges played teenage gang leader “Fred,” frequent Disney actor Tommy Kirk starred as “Mike,” and buxom Joy Harmon portrayed “Merrie.” Harmon later appeared in a memorable car wash scene, shown below, in 1967’s “Cool Hand Luke.”
The director of Village of the Giants (also the producer, and screenwriter along with Alan Caillou) was Bert I. Gordon. Gordon made other size-themed movies such as “Attack of the Puppet People,” “The Amazing Colossal Man,” and “The Food of the Gods.”
The story begins just after Fred’s car runs off the road outside of the fictional town of Hainesville, California. His gang exits the car dancing wildly. I’ve never felt like dancing immediately after an automotive crash, but maybe I’m just a fuddy-dud.
Soon afterward, we see Mike making out with his girlfriend Nancy. While Fred leads the teenagers from out of town, Mike leads the hometown crew. Nancy’s younger brother Genius inadvertently creates a substance called “Goo,” which causes rapid growth when ingested. A cat, a dog, a pair of ducks, and a tarantula all try Goo. (Spoiler alert: It doesn’t end well for the ducks, or the tarantula.)
The gargantuan ducks wind up at a dance and pique the curiosity of Fred’s gang. Wanting to exploit Goo’s potential, Fred’s gang eventually manages to steal it. They then decide to try it themselves in one of the greatest sequences ever committed to celluloid!
The newly enlarged teenagers proceed to dance in front of the mesmerized local inhabitants. Merrie forces a normal sized guy to be her partner.
In addition to the dancing interaction, Mike breaks a chair against Fred’s leg and Fred retaliates by backhanding the comparatively diminutive Mike. The giants later kidnap the sheriff’s daughter.
Oddly, it seems that the kidnapping is the only reason why the law enforcement officer gives in to their demands. He doesn’t disarm until he learns that his daughter has been taken. So, technically speaking, Fred’s gang could have bypassed taking Goo and just engaged in the far more traditional (and boring) crime of kidnapping. (The sheriff pretty much disappears after this and it was up to Mike and his friends to save the day.)
I thought that the giants might be bullet proof, because they often are in films. But, given that they subsequent order all the townspeople to surrender their weapons, apparently they were vulnerable to small arms.
Surprisingly, there was a tiny bit more to this flick than the enjoyment of watching attractive young people dance and outgrow their clothes. Fred talks about teenagers versus adults, and complains that adults are always trying to keep kids in line. One of the male giants even mentions how his Dad won’t be able to try anything now, which made me wonder for a second if there was going to be an exploration of domestic abuse. But, nothing comes of that.
There was also some nuance to the antagonists’ behavior. Fred was initially not happy that the sheriff’s daughter was kidnapped without his knowledge, and at times Fred discourages his fellows from committing violence.
Later on a brave soul hangs from Merrie’s bra while he drugs her to fall asleep.
The special effects weren’t bad, after you take into consideration when this was made. (You can learn more about the special effects here, at a site devoted to this movie!) Overall, the giant people were more convincing than the giant animals. It never felt like the giant animals were actually in the same space as the regular people.
There are several songs performed in the film by real-world rock and roll performers, specifically “The Beau Brummels,” “Freddy Cannon,” and “Mike Clifford.” I didn’t recognize the musicians, and I don’t think that any of their songs endured for long in the public consciousness. Perhaps if the budget had been higher we could have had a giant Elvis Presley or my personal favorite, a giant Dolly Parton! (Dolly was not yet famous in 1965, she was only 19 years old at the time, but still how awesome would that have been! At least we got a giant Dolly fan in BEGiantess‘ “Holly Martin.”)
The song and dance sequences might run a little long. I don’t mind them, but it’s understandable if they bore viewers.
In the denouement, Genius creates an antidote to shrink Fred’s gang and the status quo is swiftly restored. The film ends after a group of small people ask Fred if Hainesville has the Goo as they head toward town.
Personally, I would have preferred a different conclusion. Genius could have created a more potent variety of Goo. Ah, the additional growth scene that could have been. Picture Mike’s group confronting the others in the movie theater. They take Goo version 2.0. Mike’s group grows like the others. However, since their Goo is stronger, they grow much larger and burst through the theater’s roof. The mind boggles at the possibilities! 😀
This is a must see for macrophilia fans like myself. The growth scene and the interactions between giants and normal people are quite enjoyable. It’s freely available at the following link: https://archive.org/details/VillageOfTheGiants
However, folks uninterested in growing people might consider this rather boring. For example, nothing changes due to the plot. I’m not a legal scholar, but I assume that holding a person hostage for a few days normally results in jail time. However, even after all their misdeeds, Fred and his friends just leave town afterward. Perhaps because no one was hurt and there was surprisingly little property damage. The situation at the end was not terribly different than the situation at the beginning. Furthermore, there were no character arcs or lessons learned to generate interest.
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