• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Village Of The Giants

TITLE: Village Of The Giants

YEAR: 1965

GENRE: Science Fiction and Comedy

Bert I. Gordon was a famous B-movie director who created a bunch of big monster movies such as Earth Vs. The Spider and The Amazing Colossal Man in the 1950’s, but by the early 1960’s that genre was dying a quick death. Gordon needed a new gig as a director, and he knew that drive-ins were now being filled with AIP Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello teen beach movies and Disney sci-fi family films such as The Absent-Minded Professor and Son Of Flubber. Gordon’s idea was to combine the two popular styles with his own giant monster movie ideas and created Valley Of The Giants, a fairly harmless yet odd camp movie.

After crashing their car into a barricade, a big city gang of hipster kids led by Fred (played by Beau Bridges) and his girlfriend Merrie (Joy Harmon) walk into the small town ofHainesville. While there they discover a nerdy pre-teen that everybody calls Genius (Ron Howard) has invented a goo that if digested will cause the consumer to grow to a huge size. Local wholesome teens Nancy (Charla Doherty) and her boyfriend Mike (Tommy Kirk) want to use the goo to help solve the world hunger issue, but Fred, Merrie, and gang have more selfish motives. The hipster gang gets their hands on the goo, each e devours a piece, and grows to over 30 feet tall each. Now that they are giants, the hipsters decide that it would be fun to treat the adults as they treat teenagers including giving orders, making them deliver food, and install a curfew on everybody over 21. As the enormous teenagers wreck havoc on the small town it is up to Nancy, Mike, and their friends to stop the giant adolescents.

Village Of The Giants is one of those movies that is a throwback to a simpler time. In terms of cast members this film had quite a pedigree—Bridges and Kirk were former Mouseketeers from “The Mickey Mouse Club”, Harmon was a well-known late 50’s/early 60’s pin-up model, and Howard was Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show”—and is it quite amazing that Gordon was able to convince these kid stars to perform in this piece of schlock. There are numerous hipster dance scenes including live music from one-hit wonder Beau Brummels; the most notable performer was the character Red (Toni Basil) who looked at times like she was having an epileptic seizure in a go-go cage rather than grooving to the hip tunes. There are some select scenes that are quite memorable and unique: the scene when two seven foot ducks shake their booties in a hipster club where the teenagers dancing around them consider the mutant fowl as normal is odd enough; the scene where Horsey swings from one of the girl’s giant bustiers is oddly entertaining; and the “David vs. Goliath” fight scene between a normal sized Mike with a slingshot and a giant-sized Fred dodging rock and throwing trees as spears is complete B-rated goodness. The truth of the matter is that Village Of The Giants is a fairly harmless piece of cinematic trash that has a fun 1960’s vibe but has a limited market to big monster fans with a sense of humor and family-friendly beach blanket flicks but unfortunately is not a great representation of either genre. This is a classic representation of the “so bad it’s good” genre of films and is best viewed by fans of le bad cinema as more of a joke.

Like most films with a  primarily teen cast, Village Of The Giants was an early appearance for several people who moved on to bigger and better things: Harmon’s 42-22-36 figure was featured in Paul Newman’s fantasies in Cool Hand Luke and she later founded the confectioner company Aunt Joy’s Cakes; Basil became a well-known Hollywood dance choreographer who created the moves in American Graffiti and Legally Blonde and also became a pop princess in 1982 with her one-hit wonder song “Hey Mickey”; Hank Jones (Chuck) left acting and became a world famous genealogist; Bridges became a well-known TV and movie actor best known for his role as Major General Hank Landry on the TV show “Stargate: SG-1”; Turkel (the local sheriff) became most known for his roles as the bartender serving Jack Nicholson in The Shining and the character Tyrell in Blade Runner; and Howard became an icon as Richie Cunningham in “Happy Days” and later an Academy Award-winning director of A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13. Village Of The Giants was a financial flop in its initial release but later gained cult status as it was featured on one of the more memorable episodes of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”. Village Of The Giants is a pretty light production with a great deal of cheesy dialogue and acting, and fans of epically bad films such as Santa Claus Conquers The Martians and Plan 9 From Outer Space will find opportunities to hoot and holler at one of the so bad it is almost good movies of the 1960’s. Movie fans who do not see the appeal of terrible cinema will want to dodge this.

* * 1/2

–Mark

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