MGM // 1965 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 14th, 2001
No one pushes these kids around anymore!
1965's Village of the Giants is based on science fiction writer H.G. Wells' "Food of the Gods," and director Bert I. Gordon's film translation of the book is a super groovy story about the trials and tribulations of being a growing teenager...literally! Gordon also directed the 1976 flick Food of the Gods (also based on Wells' novel, about giant killer animals), and with Village of the Giants he brings both his sleeping bag and his tent to the wild world of "camp." Featuring future stars Ron "Ronny" Howard (director of blockbusters such as Parenthood and Apollo 13), Beau Bridges (brother of Jeff, star of lesser films than his sibling), and a bunch of other teens you've never heard of, Village of the Giants is the type of broth "Mystery Science Theater 3000" uses as a base for its soup. MGM presents Village of the Giants in their Midnite Movies series, and it's far out, man!
What happens when a young boy named Genius (Howard) concocts a new super formula that makes all living things that eat it grow? The town inhabiting them becomes a Village of the Giants!
When Genius creates a new formula, he finds out that the dogs, ducks, and spiders that eat it become McDonald's super sized monoliths of terror! Genius' sister and her boyfriend Mike (Tommy Kirk) see the results and have dollar signs in their eyes. If they could make chickens and cows grow this big, they could be making even BIGGER money!
While out dancing one night, a bunch of rebellious teens from out of town (led by Bridges) see the results of these experiments on the dance floor. It seems the huge ducks have decided to crash the party and show up at the booty shaking event. The rebel teens decide to break into Genius' lab and steal some of the goo for their own mischievous desires. Their ingenious plan includes eating some of it themselves, thus turning into gigantic teens with an appetite for mayhem!
Soon these attitude-laden teens decide that the adults have been pushing them around long enough, and it's now time for young people to have their day in the sun! The "little people" of the town must now follow their rules, and live under their laws. Bogus, man!
Will the whole world succumb to evil that is enormous rock and roll teens? Or can the town bring peace and quite back to their loving community?
You just gotta see this. That's the best remark I can give about Village of the Giants. Taking its inspiration from Wells' book, as well as the biblical story of David and Goliath, Village Of The Giants is a movie to feast your eyes on. It has terrible effects, the acting is horrendous, and the storyline is as flimsy as balsa wood. I loved every minute of it.
Village of the Giants is not for anyone who has any inkling to see a movie that is made well. If you don't know who Joe Bob Briggs is, then you need to stop reading this review right now. I'm not too sure if MST3K ever lampooned this film, but if not, they are for a serious beating. The director of this movie had no idea how to direct this type of story. When huge fowl show up at the dance, not ONE person looks shocked. Not one! Everyone gazes at them as if they've all see gigantic ducks before. Same with a spider that is the size of a Buick. Two teens find it, yet are not at all surprised when it starts attacking them. If I were in their place, you'd have heard a slight dripping sound after the spider made its entrance. That would have been me urinating my shorts.
It's hard to rate a film like this on a real critical scale. On one hand, Village of the Giants is terrible. The script is nearly non-existent, the acting is amateurish, and everything else in-between sucks monkey poop. Village of the Giants was made to capitalize off the expanding teen market and the groovy, sexy 1960s, the time of free love and wild orgies. Like Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space, Village of the Giants can't be watched with a keen eye. Instead, you need to watch this film with a six-pack of Bud Light, a bowl of popcorn and some really fun friends. Hard liquor is also recommended, oh, say...rubbing alcohol.
The most fun is catching future starts Howard and Bridges running around this mess, looking like they are doing a Saturday morning video project for Ron's eighth grade science class. Ron Howard shows why it was best that he went into directing more than acting; his character of Genius is grating and annoying, sort of a like a toned down version of Dexter from "Dexter's Laboratory." Beau Bridges plays a hip, happening cool teen (say WHAT?) who leads the rebellion of destruction and mayhem around town. The rest of the cast looks like they are either A.) waiting on their paychecks or B.) waiting for someone to pass around a super smokin' joint.
The effects are even worse than the acting, with blatant use of plaster feet and hands to show the giants interacting with the smaller folks. Many of the shots are obviously matted, either that or projected and placed to show size difference (when the giant kids are sitting in a movie theater, it's painfully obvious that we're watching a movie blown to a higher size for effect). Though the effects are bad, they are not half as cheesy as I expected them to be. Of course, that's like saying I was surprised that eating raw road kill didn't get me sick.
Village of the Giants is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, and looks about as good as the film's content. Much grain and dirt were spotted, and the colors were often soft or dull. Blacks were generally solid, though nothing coming close to impressive. For a film of this quality, I have to admit that this transfer is pretty fitting. Even so, it would have been nice to have received a widescreen transfer from MGM.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital Mono, and is way, way below par. There were many, many instances where I could hardly hear what some of the dialogue was, though to be fair to MGM, this is due in part to the filmmakers, not the transfer. During many scenes where small people talk to the giants, I think the sound is purposefully lowered to make the giants seem bigger. A valiant effort, though all it succeeds in doing is making it hard for the listener to hear what is being said. French and Spanish subtitles are included, and recommended, even if you don't speak either language.
No special features are included, though I'm sure it's because all involved in this mess were too embarrassed to show their mugs on any supplemental material.
It's a bad film. What else can I say? But sometimes in life, bad...can be sooooo good!
This is a fun view for those of you with a taste for the unintentionally funny, and though the transfer and audio are horrible, it's still a fun film for a midnight romp into the wonderland of the '60s. I'm sure that a few of you out there can come up with some drinking games for this sucker, and if so, please let me know.
Once again, I am forced to let the dregs of the film world go free. Sometimes films just slip through your fingers. I can't help it...I've got a soft spot for the underdog.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 1965
MPAA Rating: Not Rated