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Blu-Ray : Recommended
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Release Date: September 26th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 1959

The Giant Gila Monster Special Edition with The Killer Shrews

Overview -

When it comes to creepy, silly, generally bad but howlingly entertaining horror pictures, it doesn’t get much better than director Ray Kellogg and producer Gordon McLendon's double creature feature The Giant Gil Monster and The Killer Shrews! Film Masters gives fans of drive-in schlock a two-feature treat with these wildly entertaining gems looking better than ever, in two aspect ratios, and with hours of excellent bonus features! Perfect for the Halloween season and perfect for your collection - Recommended

After a couple of teenagers go missing in a small Texas town, everyone assumes they've run off to the big city. But, when their bodies are found in a nearby creek, the sheriff (Fred Graham) is puzzled as to what could have killed them. Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan), the leader of a local hot rod group, agrees to help the sheriff, and together they discover evidence of a giant lizard roaming the desert. Soon the lizard is terrorizing the town, and only Chase can stop it before it's too late.

Special Features:

  • BONUS FILM: The Killer Shrews (1959)
  • RAY KELLOGG-AN UNSUNG MASTER: A Ballyhoo Motion Pictures documentary written by C. Courtney Joyner and narrated by Larry Blamire
  • Full Commentary of The Giant Gila Monster by Larry Strothe, James Gonis, Shawn Sheridan, and Matt Weinhold from The Monster Party Podcast
  • Full Commentary of The Killer Shrews by Professor and Film Scholar, Jason A. Ney
  • Full Color inserted booklet with essays by Don Stradley and Jason A. Ney

Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray Disc
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p AVC/MPEG-4
Release Date:
September 26th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


“Did you notice those skidmarks?”

There was a time in American cinema when streaming wasn’t an option, where multiplexes didn’t exist, and the indoor mall hadn’t been invented. You had to go to your town’s local movie house theater to see a new film. But to see a truly great film, you had to go to the Drive-In! If you didn’t have your own ride, you were packed into your Dad’s station wagon with your date to see the latest and greatest creature feature to stomp through the big screen.

Chances are you weren’t there to watch the movie, but if the date went south you got to enjoy all sorts of gnarly monsters. And thanks to one man, you may have seen two heavy hitters on a double bill. Texas Drive-In magnate (among many ventures) Gordon McLendon had a string of theaters across the south. To help feed his business he produced two giant slices of B-Movie cheese with The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews

Now in the strictest of terms, neither The Giant Gila Monster nor The Killer Shrews are good films - but I love them anyway! My first exposure to these movies was an extended play tape my dad bought cheap that had both features on one VHS. The picture was lousy and the audio was worse, but they were a lot of fun. Later they became riffing staples by Joel and the Bots on Mystery Science Theater 3000 each earning true classic episode status. It’s not that the films are badly made on purpose, it’s that they’re badly made with love

Each film is intensely cheap-looking with barely completed sets, oddly executed visual effects, and a cast of character actors eager to work. Names like Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, James Best, and Ken Curtis are to be found in these pictures. Even producer Gordon McLendon made appearances in both shows. Then you have the main monsters themselves portrayed by puppets, forced perspective pet lizards, and coonhounds in rat costumes for extra monster flavor. 

Again, I can’t stress this point enough, but the films themselves aren’t great but they are damned entertaining. The Giant Gila Monster plays like a cross between Godzilla and Burt I. Gordon's own giant creature feature Earth vs The Spider. It’s a hoot seeing that pet lizard crawling around models and toy cars. The titular Killer Shrews thankfully lack the animal's natural fart repellant, but watching these little beasts trap a group of people in a house has some notable Night of the Living Dead vibes, predating Romero’s classic by almost ten years. 

For a couple of classic Drive-in horror features, I would love to see them in theaters. At barely 70-odd-some minutes apiece, they’re the perfect double feature. They get rolling quickly and get out of the way leaving you entertained. So pop some corn and kick back, they’re worth the time – especially if you love this sort of show

 Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
The Giant Gila Monster Special Edition
and The Killer Shrews double-feature come to Blu-ray as a two-disc inaugural release from Film Masters. Each film is pressed on a region-free BD-50 disc. The discs are housed in a two-disc case and come with a 22-page booklet containing two great essays by Gordon McLendon and Jason A. Ney. The discs load to their own static image main menu giving you an option of choosing either the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio or the openmat 1.33:1.

Video Review




Reportedly sourced from a new 4K scan of 35mm archival materials, The Giant Gila Monster looks terrific in both 1.85:1 and 1.33:1. Now of the two options, I think I prefer the 1.33:1 simply because that’s how I’ve always seen it. As I mentioned in the main review I’ve never seen these films theatrically so it’s wild to see it framed for widescreen. Both are excellent options so no matter your viewing setup both aspect ratios look great. Details are terrific with clean lines and a healthy natural grain structure. Black levels are generally excellent with deep inky shades and nice shadows. A few shots here and there are a little out of place, softer, or with crunched blacks but my wager is that’s because of the archival elements at hand. There’s also what appears to be some slight telecine wobble, but it’s not too distracting. 4/5



For The Killer Shrews we again see 1.85:1 and 1.33:1 viewing options, but the only transfer details state “restored HD print” so I don’t know the vintage. Regardless, this too is the best I’ve seen for this particular feature. The Giant Gila Monster was always at least in a watchable condition whereas The Killer Shrews always looked pretty terrible. Whole sections were barely watchable either too dark to see anything or so hot you couldn’t see past the blinding white. It’s quite something to see this one not only looking good but looking this good. Details are again excellent with nice clean lines and cinematic film grain. There’s one patch near the third act that’s noticeably sourced from a lower-quality element but it’s relatively brief and the only real distracting note. Otherwise another excellent presentation. 3.5/5 

Audio Review




Both The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews arrive with strong DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono tracks. Like the video presentations for each, I’ve heard some real dog audio on these films for past releases and by comparison they’re remarkably clear. Not perfect mind you, but much, much better. Dialog is clear for both. Some stretches of dialog for Killer Shrews has a little bit of sibilance distortion here and there, and then there’s more hiss and crackle to the track. But if you were to take both of these films and compare them to their MST3k counterparts it’s a night and day improvement.

Special Features




On top of giving multiple viewing options for both films, Film Masters offers up a nice selection of bonus features to dig into. You get two great audio commentaries, a nice long interview with Gila Monster star Don Sullivan as well as a great Ray Kellogg documentary written by C. Courtney Joyner and narrated by filmmaker Larry Blamire. On top of the films, you’ve got a few more hours of entertainment on your hands. Then you have that great 22-page booklet to dig into when you're done with the disc content. 

The Giant Gila Monster Disc

  • Audio Commentary featuring Monster Party Podcast hosts Larry Strothe, James Gonis, Shawn Sheridan, and Matt Weinhold.
  • 2009 Recorded Interview with Don Sullivan (HD 1:32:53)
  • Original Trailer (HD 1:40)

The Killer Shrews Disc

  • Audio Commentary featuring Jason A. Ney
  • Ray Kellogg - An Unsung Documentary (HD 16:12)
  • Vintage Radio Spots for Killer Shrews and Giant Gila Monster

While Ray Kellogg may have been responsible for two of the daffiest silliest most entertaining B-movie monster flicks ever made, most don’t know he also co-directed one of John Wayne’s biggest hits - The Green Berets - and was responsible for the visual effects for films like The King and I and the 1966 Batman: The Movie and was a second unit director on Cleopatra. For how much he accomplished, the career of Gordon McLendon practically demands a biopic of its own! B-Movies and their directors often have this stigma of being “talentless” or "hacks" and that’s simply not true. No one will confuse The Giant Gila Monster or The Killer Shrews as the greatest feature films ever made, but for their budget and ambition, they're damned fun and continue to entertain decades later. Whether you’re laughing with them or at them, both shows are worth the time and make for a great double feature. Film Masters gives both films the best A/V presentations I’ve ever seen complete with multiple aspect ratios and hours of excellent bonus features. If you love Drive-In B-Movies and creature features, it doesn’t get much better than these two beasts. Recommended.  

Order your copy of The Giant Gila Monster Special Edition with The Killer Shrews on Blu-ray