Tuesday, 14 August 2018

War of the Colossal Beast (1958)

This sequel has competent acting performances, fair direction and ordinary special effects. An obvious attempt at milking dry an already successful formula.

Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Produced by Bert I. Gordon
Written by Bert I. Gordon (story), George Worthing Yates
Music by Albert Glasser
Cinematography: Jack A. Marta
Edited by Ronald Sinclair
Production company: Carmel Productions
Distributed by American International Pictures
Running time: 69 minutes


Duncan "Dean" Parkin as Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning/Colossal Man
Sally Fraser as Joyce Manning
Roger Pace as Major Mark Baird
Russ Bender as Dr. Carmichael
Rico Alaniz as Sgt. Luis Murillo
Charles Stewart as Captain Harris
George Becwar as John Swanson
Roy Gordon as Mayor
Robert Hernandez as Miguel
George Milan as General Nelson
Cathy Downs as Carol Forrest (flashback scenes)
William Hudson as Dr. Paul Linstrom (flashback scenes)
Larry Thor as Major Eric Coulter (flashback scenes)


Spoilers follow below.
Words contained in inverted commas taken from film's dialogue.
Some creative licence taken.

TV News Report

“…..and that’s the latest report on the international scene. Now, on the lighter side of the news…a dispatch from Guavos, Mexico says that Mr. John Swanson is having a little trouble collecting insurance on his stolen truck. What happened to it? Well, according to his claim report, it disappeared without leaving any tracks! Mr. Swanson says something must have carried off his truck.” Perhaps we’ll find out more about this magical disappearing act in the coming days! “And here in Los Angeles…….”


Read on for more.....

Joyce Manning’s Journal Entry

I had just been watching the news report on TV about Swanson's disappearing truck when I decided to contact Mr Swanson himself, along with the army who sent over a Major Baird. Mr Swanson was really hot under the collar declaring that he’d be getting onto lawyers, making the insurance company pay up and taking them to court. I think he was more upset about being called a liar.

I explained to Mr Swanson and Major Baird my belief that Swanson's truck was taken by my brother, Glenn Manning who had been exposed to radiation from an atomic bomb explosion that caused him to grow over 60 ft tall. I then went on to outline the already widely reported events about Glenn going on a rampage that ended with him being shot and plunging to an apparent death into the waters beneath the Hoover Dam. I finished by telling Mr Swanson and the Major that the waters could have carried Glenn down to Mexico. In other words, Glenn “survived both the artillery and the fall” and that his survival and presence in Mexico would account for the disappearance of Swanson’s truck.


TV News Report

Further to a previous story, it has been reported that a series of delivery trucks have been robbed and destroyed south of the US-Mexican border. The question remains: robbed and destroyed by whom?

It has been speculated in some quarters that the giant behemoth dubbed “The Amazing Colossal Man,” Lt. Col. Glenn Manning had not in fact been killed last year, that he survived his fall from the Boulder Dam, that he has now somehow reappeared and that it is he who is the culprit. Hard to believe, you might think?

You will no doubt remember that Lt. Col. Manning was a victim of overexposure to radiation, had grown to immense size and as a result had gone insane.

We have just received a taped report from Guavos, Mexico sent by a local reporter, Jose Gonzales which we will now present to you and which may cause you to consider the plausibility of the reappearance of The Amazing Colossal Man!

Roll Tape….. 

Gonzales: This is Jose Gonzales reporting from south of the border where strange events seem to portend the ominous re-emergence of a problem of immense proportions – one which we thought had been dealt with once and for all!

It first came to our notice when a young Mexican drove his truck at breakneck speed into a body of water. Although the young man survived, something caused him to go into a state of shock – a shock so profound as to rob him of the power of speech!

I have with me the owner of the truck, Mr John Swanson. Mr Swanson, could you please tell our audience the events surrounding the disappearance of your truck.

Swanson: Well, when I realised that my dang-blasted truck was missing, I high-tailed to the Sheriff's office to report the truck as missing. I described the truck as being a “dark green stake bed truck, ton and a half” with a California license and “loaded with groceries.” You see, I run a gun club back in the hills, and with the season about to open and expecting a crowd, “I was stocking up on supplies” and was intending on “bringing the truckload of groceries down from Calexico. Get the picture?”

Having to run two cars, I hired the kid to drive the truck while I drove the other one. Dang-blasted kid didn’t end meeting me where we was supposed to.

Gonzales: So, what happened with the young man?

Swanson: I think his name is “Miguel something or other. Probably 15, 16 years old. Dark. Thin.” Anyway, the Sheriff then tells me that the young fella who was driving my truck had been located but that he was in a state of shock, unable to say anything. The boy was lying in a bed in an adjoining room and he was mumbling something incoherently in Spanish. I was still as mad as hell at him.

While the boy was being tended to, the Sheriff and I went to the scene where he was found. I knew from the tracks that my truck must have made them on account of me having had “two new re-treads like that on the rear.” We figured that the truck “came down the road, then got stuck.” Question was, “where’d it go?”

Gonzales: Where do you think it went, Mr Swanson?

Swanson: By the looks of things I suppose “straight up in the air” but “look, that truck had a radio and a heater, but it didn’t have wings!”

Gonzales: Well, this presents us with a very strange mystery. It does appear as if the immense hand of a giant has reached down, plucked up the truck and taken it away some place. Could this explain the destruction of other vehicles in the area? Could it be as some people are now suggesting, that The Amazing Colossal Man has somehow returned?


Major Mark Baird:
Preliminary Report
RE: Truck Disappearances – Guavos, Mexico

Assessment of Joyce Manning’s claims that her brother, Lt. Col. Glenn Manning dubbed "The Colossal Man" survived the military action taken against him on _______1957.

Medical authorities agree that “no man, no matter what his size, could take…two bazooka charges and a drop of over 700 feet and come through it alive.”


Joyce Manning’s Journal Entry

I made my own way to Guavos, Mexico and saw the young man, Miguel who finally came out of his state of shock and began to mumble indistinctly in Spanish. Sergeant Murillo thought he heard Miguel say the word “Ogro” which I am led to believe means “a big fellow, like an Ogre!” Had indeed a “monster, a giant man” attacked the truck and scared the wits out of Miguel?

Major Baird soon came down accompanied by a Dr. Carmichael who was introduced as Head of Radiation Exposure and was very interested in my brother’s case.

After I told them what Miguel had seen, a small group of us went out to the site where Miguel was found. After we arrived, we soon concluded that “the truck apparently skidded into the water” but “it never drove out.”

It wasn’t too long before we discovered a huge footprint along with other prints that led up into the nearby mountains. “The foot that made that print is about ten times the size of a normal man. That would make him about 60 feet tall. Glenn was 60 feet tall!”

Of course, we followed the prints which eventually led us to an area strewn with the twisted and smashed metal carcases of trucks. Unfortunately, darkness was quickly setting in, and so we had to abandon our investigation and return to town.

Major Mark Baird: 


RE: Reappearance of Lt. Col. Glenn Manning aka “Colossal Man”; Threat Assessment & Proposed Course of Action. 

After the inspection of the giant footprints and the wrecked vehicles in the nearby mountains, I contacted Mexican military authorities who arranged to “have troops and artillery standing by.” The intention is that as soon as Manning’s location is pinpointed, “they’ll move in on him.”

Prior to the above course of action being undertaken, I was persuaded by Manning’s sister, Joyce Manning that her brother might come willingly if reasoned with by somebody he knows well. If force is used on the 60-foot Manning, casualties may result.

I returned with Ms Manning to the mountains where the wrecked trucks were situated. Swanson's missing truck was identified. Other trucks in the vicinity had been emptied of their contents leading to the conclusion that Manning had been raiding the trucks for food.

As if on cue, we were suddenly alerted to the presence of Manning by a deep rasping, rumbling and grunting sound. His size is immense, and one side of his face consists of exposed teeth and skeleton due to injuries sustained in his fall from the dam, as well as possible tissue damage from radiation exposure.

I propose to draw up a plan to capture Manning by filling up a bread truck with bread drugged with chloral hydrate, “enough to put him to sleep for 8 hours.” Once subdued, Manning is to be brought back to the United States

The only other alternatives are to let the Mexican authorities deal with Manning or run the risk of losing contact with him for many weeks.


TV News Report

It has now been officially confirmed: “The case of Army colonel, Glenn Manning who went berserk in Las Vegas not long ago is in the news again today. Military authorities last night admitted that the early announcement that he had been accidentally destroyed was an error. He was captured alive today in Mexico, and plans are underway to fly him back across the border in a troop carrier transport.”


Media Interview

Reporter: “Well, now that he’s being brought back to the United States, what does Congress plan to do about him?”

Congressman: Uh, do about whom?

Reporter: Why, the giant man.

Congressman: Oh, as - as far I know that matter doesn’t come under congressional jurisdiction. Uh, I was given to understand the Dept. of Medical Research takes over from this point on………..



After the heroic capture of the colossal-sized Glen Manning by means of a truck loaded with drugged bread, an attempt was made to bring him back to the United States.

Before the troop transport plane conveying Manning could land, there was massive confusion as to what to do with him. Neither Congress, the Dept. of Medical Research, the Health and Welfare Dept., or even the Pentagon were willing to accept responsibility for Manning.

As it turned out, the problem was taken out of bureaucratic hands when the transport plane ran low on fuel and was forced to land in Los Angeles. Despite objections, Manning was taken to a hangar at the Los Angeles Airport and secured with chains.

Manning will be kept in the hangar until Washington is able to decide what is to be done with him.




Media Interview

Reporter: What’s to be done with the giant man after his being subdued with the anaesthetic?

Major Baird: He’ll be held right here until a decision has been made “what’s to be done with it.”

Reporter: Is there still any danger posed by having him restrained here?

Major Baird: “Well, he’s too weak to break loose at the moment. He lost considerable blood in his attempt to escape. Besides that, we’ve taken extra precautions with him.”

Reporter: Like what?

Major Baird: “We keep a watch on him day and night. Those manacles were specially wrought to stand 10 times his estimated strength. We have anchored them in cement weighing two tons and some 12 feet in the earth. Guards have been doubled, and we keep a reserve force on stand-by duty.”

Reporter: It certainly sounds like you have taken appropriate measures, “but you can’t expect to keep him here for life. Do you have any idea what’ll happen to him eventually?”

Major Baird: “Well, that depends.”

Reporter: “You see any hope that he’ll ever improve?”

Major Baird: “Well, I’d rather have you ask Dr Carmichael” as Manning is his patient.

Dr Carmichael: “Well, the big question now is his mind. He may be suffering from amnesia, shell-shock, loss of memory, whatever you want to call it. In that case, we have techniques now that will bring him out of it. On the other hand, if his brain tissue has suffered injury, he’ll be a psychopathic case and a menace until he dies.”

Reporter: “Is there any way of telling?”

Dr Carmichael: “An examination would do that.”

Reporter: “How soon can you proceed with it?”

Dr Carmichael
: “Almost immediately” and when we have the findings we’ll be able to decide what’s to be done with Manning.

Dr Aloysius Carmichael

Subject: Lt. Col. Glenn Manning

Purpose: Procedure to elicit recollection & recall of subject’s identity and past life.

Procedure: Electroencephalograph to record impulses set off by different parts of the brain by stimulation of patient’s mind using various ideas via an association test to arouse a response causing a tiny electrical current to occur in his brain.

Aim: To determine likelihood of patient recovery with diagnosis of curable amnesia.

Results: Testing failed to illicit any articulate or coherent vocal response from subject, with the exception of inarticulate grunts and anguished cries and groans. As the subject displays a normal nervous reaction, amnesia can be ruled out. A diagnosis of brain trauma is indicated. It is to be concluded that the subject in his current state will be unable to live among human society in any viable way.


Media Interview

Major Baird: As you are by now aware, the results of the tests performed on Col. Manning [indicates the presence of the restrained and sedated hulk of Manning] has left us with no other possible course of action. He is scheduled to be transported by a navy ship to a deserted island, “a small one, about 60 miles off the coast.”

Reporter: But how will Manning survive?

Major Baird: “He’ll be well provided for. An airlift is being set up, and food will be parachuted down to him. He’ll be supplied with everything he needs.”

Reporter: It seems horrible just the same, Major. After all, it’s not his fault that he’s become the way he is.

Major Baird: I know, but “there’s no place in the civilized world for a creature that big….he’ll be happier by himself.”

Reporter: Still, Major, you can’t blame anyone for feeling terribly sorry for him.

Major Baird: Sure, but look at it this way: Manning has become “a…monster with the instincts of a wild beast and there’s nothing you and I, or anyone else can ever do that will change him back to what he once was.”
[Background sound of groaning and of the snapping of a chain

Reporter: “Will he be alone on this island?”

Major Baird: “The navy will land an inspection party every month.” Now, if you’ll excuse me ladies and gentlemen, I still have some work to do finalizing the arrangements…..


TV News Report

“We interrupt our regular program to bring you a special police bulletin. The Colossal Man has broken loose and is now known to be in the vicinity of Griffith Park.”

“Steps are being taken to recapture him. Do not go near the area. I repeat, do not go near the area. You may endanger your life by doing so and you are certain to impede emergency services which need all the space they can get.”

“This station is dispatching a mobile unit for on the spot coverage at the scene in Griffith Park.”


Mobile TV Unit Report

Reporter: This is Sean Spicer reporting from Griffith Park on the events surrounding the recent escape bid by “The Colossal Man,” Col. Glenn Manning.

So far armored artillery has been ordered up to surround the area while infantry troops are to be moved in on Manning until contact is made with him. Manning will only be fired upon when he’s “isolated from all civilians, and then, only if absolutely necessary.”

Access roads have been blocked off and the military have set up field headquarters in the hills.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you’re witnessing a manhunt for the biggest man in existence.” As I already mentioned, we’re in Griffith Park and it’s been surrounded by troops who are trying to make contact.

“That building you see up there is the Griffith Observatory. Now the searchlights are swinging over to our left.

I’ve just received word that a busload of kids were in the Griffith Observatory “looking for Sputnik or something” but it’s not certain if they have gotten out of the park yet.

In the meantime, I’d like you to meet some of the officers working here with the army to restore order. Any trouble with the public causing congestion of the disaster area?”

Officer in Charge: “Not this time. They seem to be keeping the roads pretty well open for us.”

Spicer: “I understand you were able to get everyone out of the park before anything could happen to them.”

Officer: That’s right.

Spicer: “Well, we really appreciate you men at a time like this.” By the way, I did just receive a report that “there was a school bus from Westmont Junior High up at the Planetarium tonight. Did you see it come down?”

Officer: “All cars were checked out of the park some time ago.”

[A woman with a distraught look on her face stands nearby and approaches clutching a coat close to her

Woman: “Are you sure? My daughter Laurie was on it. I’ve been waiting for her down at the corner.”

Officer: “There’s nothing for you to worry about. The bus is still up there, but it seems to be safe.”

Woman: “Can’t I go through? Let me go to Laurie, please. She ought to have her coat. I wanted her to take it when she left the house this morning, only I forgot to remind her. 

Officer: She’ll be all right without it.

Spicer: Something appears to be happening now…..it’s the giant. Quick, get a shot of the giant!

[As the camera shifts its view toward the direction of the observatory and the looming presence of Manning, screaming and the sounds of shock, horror and confusion are picked up by Spicer’s microphone.]

“Look! Look at the giant!”
“There he is!”
“He’s tremendous!”

[As the sound of Manning’s angry and anguished groans and grunts can be heard, an amplified voice is discharged from a megaphone toward Manning.]

“Glenn Manning…You’re surrounded. It’s impossible for you to escape. My men have orders to fire on you if you try…..Give yourself up! You wont be harmed if you’ll give yourself up at once….Give yourself up, Glenn. Give yourself up!....Surrender yourself or you will be destroyed!”





……threatened to throw a school-bus filled with children at stunned crowds below and the military sent to subdue him.

Manning’s hitherto unknown sister, Joyce Manning managed to persuade her giant brother to put the bus down thus saving all on board.

Some spark of humanity must have remained within Manning as he seems to have performed a deliberate and supreme act of self-sacrifice by electrocuting himself to death by coming into contact with high voltage power lines…….


Points of Interest

War of the Colossal Beast is a sequel to Gordon's earlier The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), and it picks up where that one left off. However, the film features a different cast. It was distributed theatrically by American International Pictures as the top half of a double feature with Attack of the Puppet People. (1958)

Unlike the first film, the character of Manning virtually has no dialogue which makes it far more difficult to feel empathy for the character.

The special effects are pretty ordinary by any standards with great reliance made on double exposure shots. However, quite a good job was made with Manning’s facial make-up and the audio of his character’s grunts and groans which effectively contribute to the “horror” aspect of the film.

The film is short enough as it is but unfortunately much of it consists of flashback footage from the first film which merely serves to pad the movie.

Despite the film’s title, the 'Colossal Beast' does not really engage in much of a “war” with anyone. For much of the time we see Manning being captured, him lying on his back and some military vehicles being maneuvered into position.

The War of the Colossal Beast does serve to highlight one important and relevant theme that threads itself through many aspects of life in any era. Namely, how we choose to deal with big and seemingly intractable problems which are often of our own making. These can involve international relations, trade arrangements between countries, climate change, terrorism, law and order and so on. Sometimes we try to deal with them by use of blunt force when other more sensible and effective methods could be employed. Just as we think such problems have been dealt with, and we retreat back into a state of smug self-congratulatory complacency, they have a tendency to resurface bigger and badder than ever to bite us in the ass / arse when we least expect it!

Full Movie

©Chris Christopoulos 2018

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