Review: ‘Giant from the Unknown’ gets a home video makeover

B-movie fans are an accepting bunch. By their very definition, these films aren’t generally well-made, but we watch because we love the idea of them.

Plus, as I was reminded recently while watching “Giant from the Unknown,” we never know when we’ll be surprised.

Showcased in a new home video release from The Film Detective, “Giant from the Unknown” is one of four films made in 1958 by director Richard E. Cunha (the others are “She Demons,” “Missile to the Moon” and “Frankenstein’s Daughter”) that get lumped together as bad B-movies. But that’s being harsh when it comes to “Giant.” It’s an easy to watch jaunt through B-movie horror territory and Cunha shows a nice touch with imagery to keep his low-budget film interesting. That this film looks great (it is “resurrected” from the original camera negative in a new 4K transfer) is a bonus.

The plot is straight from the B-movie handbook. Something is killing the livestock and people of a small mountainside town in California called Pine Ridge. There are mutilated cows, missing chickens, talk of curses, legends surrounding an ancient Indian burial ground and reanimation. Throw in a scientist, a handsome young guy, a beautiful woman, a mysterious creature and an officer of the law and there’s your film.

Note that the film’s first image is of lightning – that will come in handy later. The movie opens with news of another death – “a brutal beating” of a rancher who was “torn apart like the animals we found.” The panicked townsfolk have gathered, talking in the type of monster movie jargon we love.

“No human being could do that,” one guy says.

“It’s supernatural, that’s what we think,” adds another.

“If you lived here as long as all of us, you would have heard the legend of the curse.”

Universal monsters headed to YouTube – briefly

You can never have enough of the Universal Monsters so it’s a good day when you learn you have more ways to watch.

Starting Jan. 15, NBCUniversal’s YouTube channel “Fear: The Home of Horror” is hosting seven movies starring such iconic creatures as “Frankenstein,” “The Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Mummy.” You can watch each film for free for one week from the premiere date and also purchase discounted digital copies of the films.

“The Bride of Frankenstein,” with Elsa Lanchester and Boris Karloff, is one of the Universal horror films that can be seen for free for one week at “Fear: The Home of Horror.”

Here’s the schedule, with films set to be released at 3 p.m. EST:

Jan. 15: “Dracula” (1931) and “The Mummy” (1932)

Jan. 16: “Frankenstein” (1931) and “Bride of Frankenstein” (1935)

Jan. 17: “The Invisible Man” (1933), “The Wolf Man” (1941) and the comedy “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948).

[Also read: How Abbott and Costello brought the meet-cute to horror films]

For longtime fans, this is simply another place to catch these films again, even if it’s just for a week. But this move also helps introduce the films to new viewers who may stumble upon them while looking at Fear’s more modern content like “Jaws,” “Chucky,” “The Invisible Man” (2020) and TV shows like “The Purge” and “Bates Motel.”

Recently “Fear,” which has more than a million subscribers, has been stocking up on some interesting Universal classics material including trailers, explainers, scenes and character introductions making it a good resource to find content on the Universal monsters. There’s some fun stuff, too, like side-by-side comparisons of the 1933 and 2020 versions of “The Invisible Man.”