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Friday, October 2, 2009

VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS -- movie review by porfle

(NOTE: This is one of my earliest movie reviews and originally appeared at in 2005.)

In the annals of goofy teen movies, one stands taller than all the rest. Mainly because it has giant teenagers in it.

VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS is one of the dumbest movies ever made, yet it's a heck of a lot more fun to watch than THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY. Flung onto movie screens by Avco-Embassy Pictures way back in 1965, VILLAGE boasts an incredible cast including Tommy Kirk, Ron Howard, Johnny Crawford, Beau Bridges, Toni Basil, Joy Harmon, Tim "Mickey's my dad!" Rooney, Tisha Sterling, Joe Turkel, and the Beau Brummels. It was directed by Bert I. Gordon, the guy who liked to put giant things in his movies (notice hisinitials) such as AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, and FOOD OF THE GODS. Aside from the giant teenagers, this one has giant ducks, a giant tarantula, a giant cat, and a giant dog. The special effects aren't all that great, but, well, the movie didn't have a giant budget.

The story begins with a car wreck on the outskirts of town during a really bad rainstorm. Eight wild, fun-loving teenagers in their mid-twenties pile out and start dancing around in the mud. Then they flop down in it and commence to mud-rasslin'. But these activities aren't enough to satisfy such a hyperactive bunch, so they decide to walk to Hainesville and see what's hoppin' down at the local dance club. First, however, they break into a closed theater and help themselves to the facilities, which apparently include a washer-dryer combo and a shower.

Meanwhile, manly teen-heartthrob Tommy Kirk is making out on the couch with his girlfriend Nancy when suddenly there's an explosion down in her basement (no double-entendre intended). Nancy's kid brother, "Genius" (an Opie-sized Ron Howard), has just blown up his laboratory, and in the process has accidentally invented a substance that can super-size animals, which he discovers after his dog eats some of it and suddenly bumps his head on the ceiling. They feed a bit of it to some ducks that just happen to be waddling around out in the backyard, and the ducks get really big, too. Then the ducks waddle on down to the club and start dancing with the kids, who seem to think it's really neat to dance with some giant ducks.

But the ducks mean something else to Beau Bridges, the leader of the bad teenagers from outta town -- money. If he could steal the substance (technical name: "goo") he and his pals could get rich quick. He enlists Tisha Sterling to seduce Tommy Kirk while he personally puts the moves on Nancy, buying her a Coke and letting her feel his muscles. But their incredible combined sex appeal fails to elicit any information about the goo, so they must bide their time.

The next day, Tommy and Nancy hold a big rock 'n' roll pool party where they serve roast duck, and plenty of it. While Freddie Cannon serenades the crowd by unsuccessfully attempting to lip-synch to his song "Little Bitty Corinne", one of the bad girls finally tricks Genius into spilling the beans about the goo. Before you know it, Beau and his wild bunch are back at the theater, dividing the stolen hunk of goo into eight pieces. Seems they've decided to eat it themselves, get big, and show all those mean old adults that have always pushed them around who's boss, along with goody-goody fellow teens such as Tommy and Nancy.

They eat the goo. Buttons start popping off. Clothing begins to rip. Joy Harmon comes to the forefront at this point in the movie for two really big reasons. No, not her acting and dialogue. In case you don't know, Joy played the girl who washes her car in COOL HAND LUKE, which is the first thing that most guys who have seen COOL HAND LUKE remember about it. She doesn't wash a car in this movie, but she does get to be about fifty feet tall and dance around in a makeshift bikini, which will do.

The pool party suddenly turns ugly when the giant teenagers show up and start jerking and frugging in slow motion to Jack Nitzsche's ultra-cool theme music. At one point, Joy playfully grabs normal-sized Johnny Crawford (who played Mark McCain on "The Rifleman") and hangs him from her halter straps. Maybe it's just me, but this doesn't seem like such a bad thing. Since his girlfriend is watching, however, Johnny must act mortified by the jiggling ordeal until finally the local sheriff (Joe Turkel of BLADE RUNNER fame) shows up, takes one look at the giant teens, and groans wearily, "Oh, for crying out loud, now what's THIS?"

Beau informs him that they are taking over the town. This means that the adults will have to take orders from them, which includes lugging tons of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Cokes to the theater every day around lunchtime. To ensure their cooperation, Beau has the sheriff's daughter and Tommy's girlfriend kidnapped and held hostage. Tommy and the rest of the good teens must then think of a way to rescue them while Genius works feverishly on a goo-antidote. Toni ("Oh Mickey, you're so fine") Basil, who plays a go-go dancer at the club, helps by distracting the big boys with some far-out booty-shakin'. Meanwhile, Johnny is lowered from the rafters by a rope so that he can shove a huge wad of ether-soaked cotton in Joy's face, and ends up lodged in her cleavage again. Did he help write this script or what?

All of this, of course, is leading up to the final David-and-Goliath showdown between Tommy and Beau involving spears and slingshots in the town square. "Don't worry...I'll bring you his head on a silver platter," Beau promises Joy right before the fight, to which one of the group confidently responds, for no apparent reason, "That was Samson and Delilah!" No, it wasn't, you big dummy, it was John the Baptist and Salome'. You just wanna grab Mr. Information and slap him a few times for being so dumb, but you can't, which is frustrating. But that was forty years ago, so he's probably been slapped plenty of times by now anyway.

If I told you any more, I'd be giving away too much of the plot -- not that it matters. VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS is stupid, has bad special-effects, and doesn't really make much sense, but it's also a lot of fun to watch. So for its entertainment value, and because Joe Bob Briggs himself once bestowed the "Joy Harmon Fan Club Appreciation Award" on me (although I'm not sure whether or not he's really authorized to do that), I'm giving it a giant thumbs up.

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