Could there actually be a film out there that combines the Beach Blanket films and sci-fi films of the ’60s with a little Disney thrown in? A film that features the likes of Beau Bridges, Ron Howard, Johnny Crawford, Tommy Kirk, Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon, and Toni Basil? Yes, that Toni Basil. Welcome to Village of the Giants. This 1965 outing was directed by Bert I. Gordon who had a reputation for films with oversized antagonists, but Village of the Giants took him to a new camp.
Fred (Beau Bridges) and his friends run their car off the road avoiding a roadblock during a heavy downpour. After dancing around in the rain and some gratuitous mud wrestling, they make their way to the fictional small town of Hainesville, California. Their timing is excellent as 11-year-old “Genius” (Ron Howard), as he likes to be called, has accidentally developed Goo in his garage. When consumed, we see a cat, ducks, a spider, and eventually Fred and his pals grow to be, well…giants. With the only road washed out, the new giants tear down all forms of communication and take the sheriff’s daughter hostage so that there will be no interference from local or outside forces. Apparently, they have plans to turn the town into their own giant party.
Luckily, Mike (Tommy Kirk, who had retired his mouse ears, but still had several beach and sci-fi movies in his future), Horsey (Johnny Crawford, who had outgrown Mark McCain and was looking for more grown-up roles), and their protagonist pals were apparently not as concerned with the sheriff’s daughter, and set out to take down the giants. While they were busy trying different tactics, Genius was trying to create more Goo. Ironically, he accidentally creates an antidote. The punks are returned to their puny size and pushed out of town. Story concluded in only 81 minutes.
Village of the Giants, which comes out on Blu-ray on today from KL Studio Classics is brain candy. The new release includes audio commentary by film historian Tim Lucas and the theatrical trailer. The special effects are good for the time, and the music is surprising, primarily due to the on-screen performances of Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon, The Beau Brummels, and Mike Clifford. The highlights are seeing the faces we recognize. Though Ron Howard as Genius doesn’t stray far from the role of Opie Taylor, Tommy Kirk is certainly more mature than Merlin Jones or the Shaggy Dog, and Johnny Crawford has grown closer to becoming a Rifleman himself. Seeing Beau Bridges, Toni Basil, and a young Joe Turkel will certainly bring a smile to your face. Village of the Giants has a huge fromage factor, but, at less than an hour and a half, it’s worth the trip back to a time when bigger was better and movies were just silly fun.
Village of the Giants earns Ron’s Recommendation. Pick up the new release, make some popcorn, and have some brain candy.