Movies and Film

He Just Wants to be Left Alone – War of the Colossal Beast (1958)

In the follow-up to The Amazing Colossal Man, Colonel Manning has survived despite being hit with a couple of bazooka shells and falling over a dam into the waters below.  He should not have survived, nobody could realistically, yet perhaps by being 60 feet tall, he did and he is appropriately mad.  Literally.

Directed by Bert I. Gordon, the man responsible for the first film, he transforms the story of Manning from one of a simple man with just an atypical problem to a full on monster movie.  Circumstances may have driven Manning mad, but coupled with the loss of half his face, due to the fall most likely, and leaving the skull exposed did not help matters either.  He yells and rages throughout the film and only seems to have the thought or instinct to take care of his most basic needs such as eating.

His sister Joyce played by Sally Fraser always thought Manning had survived even through evidence to the contrary.  But when she hears about food trucks going missing in Mexico, and with a little investigating she finds it to be true.  Joyce is a persistent woman and she knows that Manning, the real Manning, is somewhere deep inside the madness.  Fraser does a good job as the lead in the film, but there was nothing extraordinary about her performance to make it all that memorable.  When you look back on the movie, all you will think of is colossal man, which perhaps is as it should be.

Glenn Lanagan was replaced in this movie by Dean Parkin and really, it did not matter as he maybe said three words throughout the whole picture.  Also, physical appearance was not nearly as important as half of his face was missing.  So anybody that bore a passing resemblance would have done in a pinch.  The special effects to create the colossal man this time were much the same as the last and looked to have no improvements over the first film.  The practical effects, the makeup used to create the skull-like visage on the right side of his face looked incredible.  Gordon and his crew did excellent work creating a truly frightening and pathetic creature.
One of the highlights of the film was the end sequence.  The film, having been shot in black and white, turned to colour as Manning sacrificed himself.  An interesting sequence as you did not often see that in films of the time.  And while it was one of the best bits in the movie, it was also one of the worst because as the colossal man was being electrocuted, he merely faded away.  Perhaps if there was that much voltage and it happened to a regular person, it is possible there would be no body left to find as it burned up.  Manning was 60 feet tall.  There would have been a body.  Also, it would have been a perfect segue way into getting a third movie.   Sadly that would never come to pass.

Written by Gordon and George Worthing Yates, it was not as novel or as strong as the first film, but it had more action and perhaps just a little more humanity as you felt sorry for the man having gone through everything that he did.  Not being your average giant monster movie, it had to do things a little different, though it was more akin to King Kong than any other film of its kind, as the women in Manning’s life loved him and wanted to save him much the same as the giant ape.  Truly, B-movie greatness.

4 out of 5

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