Richard Cunha’s Giant from the Unknown is not a good movie. However, like a lot of bad older films, there’s so much wrong with it that it’s a curious thing to watch. Frankly, it’s brimming with a lot of stupid 1950s tropes (as overused as that expression is). Then again, some aspects seem to predate the 1950s, like the racist sentiments against a character named “Indian Joe” (Billy Dix). While not a fan of playing this race card, what can I say? This part of the movie sucks, and not in the better sense of the word. Still, in an odd way, this element only augments the other bad aspects, and needn’t be focused on exclusively. After all, the giant “itself” is the most ridiculous part of the movie.
What Makes a Giant?
Dwelling near a place called Devil’s Crag, the so-called Giant from the Unknown (AKA “Vargas the Diablo Giant”) is played by boxer-turned-actor Buddy Baer. While the actor’s name is cute and lovable, the Giant in this film is not. However, just what is this character? He’s called a giant, but is he? According to Google, Buddy Baer stood at 6′ 7,″ which is pretty tall. However, does tallness alone qualify one as a giant?
I’ll use myself as an example here. I am 5′ 6,″ which is considered short by some. Still, I’m only 13 inches shorter than Baer was. That’s only one full-size Subway sandwich + 1 inch of difference. Does this mean I could easily terrorize people had I been born with an extra Subway footlong sandwich to my height? Something about that calculation doesn’t seem right.
So it must be in the attitude of the beast, and the fact that he was freed from a state of suspended animation after 500 years. Weird, right? Yep. Weirder still, his suspended aimation somehow made him imperivious to damage from bullets. How does that work? No one knows, least of all the frickin’ giant himself. All he knows now is to act like a bewildered, violent beast. He is also a former Spanish Conquistador, which means he is no longer a “Giant from the Unknown.” His origins are actually very well established pretty early on, and certain people from some hick town or another fight him before he kills more people and stuff. Honestly, wouldn’t you if you were in their shoes?
I’m going to spoil the very end for you, just for the hell of it. He falls down a waterfall (or that’s what the effects are supposed to convey). You really won’t care that I spoiled it, or at least shouldn’t. Here’s a picture of that glorious moment:
In addition to He Might Be Giant, this film stars Ed Kemmer as the unmemorable Wayne Brooks, Sally Fraser as Janet Cleveland (who faints very easily, as all women do), Bob Steele as the racist Sheriff Parker who is racist, and also Morris Ankrum as Dr. Frederick Cleveland who uses his Dr. skills in this movie to spellbound the audience (just kidding). Of course, you’ll probably find these characters rather interchangeable, and they honestly could have been played by an endless array of alternate actors (no offense — and surely none taken, as most of these people are either dead by now or well on their way out). Finally, no actual giants were harmed in the making of this film.
What are your thoughts on Giant from the Unknown? Then again, why would they matter?