Village of the
When we look back at the biggest news stories of 2003 (and who wouldn't enjoy
doing that on a Saturday night), one of them would have to be California's recall
election in which voters ousted incumbent Governor Gray Davis and turned to action
hero Arnold Schwarzenegger. But as big as the story was, I know that years from
now I won't remember very much about it. I won't remember the allegations that
Arnold fondled women in elevators and I will have forgotten all about California's
energy crisis that perpetuated the downfall of Gov. Gray Davis. But there is
one piece of mind-boggling trivia I will never forget about that election: Gary
Coleman ran for governor. Roll that around in your head for a moment. Gary Coleman
... ran for governor.
For you readers too young to remember, Gary Coleman was the child actor who played
Arnold Jackson on the 80's sitcom Different Strokes (You may have heard
his trademark catch phrase, "Whuchyoutalkinabout, Willis?"). Like most
child actors, Coleman had difficulty finding good roles in Hollywood after the
show was cancelled. I toyed with the idea of searching the Internet for later
Gary Coleman TV and movie vehicles, but I just couldn't. Being a webmaster of
a b-movie web site, I obviously have too much time on my hands. Researching movies
Manster is one thing, but when I Google the words "Gary Coleman filmography",
it's all over for me. The
moment I type those words, I may as well give up on life.
Another child actor who struggled throughout his career was Ronny Howard who
played the role of Genius in Village of the Giants. Prior to this, Ronny
played Opey, the son of sheriff Andy Taylor on the hit TV series The
Andy Griffith Show but was never seen again in Hollywood. Rumours suggest
that he became Ronny
Howard, little boy lost! (See inset at right)
To this day, Hollywood, filled with racial bias, refuses to hire actors who
look too "American". In fact, there aren't any good roles if you're
a good-looking, male caucasian. By far the biggest celebrity of Village of the
Giants is Beau Bridges. The legendary film star would go on to
win worldwide acclaim in such films as The Fabulous Baker
Boys and Norma Rae.
Bridges countered his All-American looks with a bit of German heritage and just
a dash of Greater Mekong.
Village of the Giants opens with a car filled with six groovy teenagers going
off the road in a mudslide. Dazed, confused and soaked from the hammering rain,
they do the only sensible thing: they get out of the car
and dance to the tune playing on the radio! Then the dancing turns into a kind of a free-for-all Woodstock
mud pit. The leader of the pack, Fred, played by Beau Bridges, (I'm just going
to refer to him as Beau), suggests they walk 3 miles to the nearest town called
Meanwhile, in one Haynesvillian living room, teen sweetheart Nancy
makes out with her boyfriend Mike. Nancy has a little brother whom they've nicknamed "Genius",
played by Ronny Howard (I'm just going to refer to him as Ronny). Calling him
"Genius" is a bit of an understatement as, later, he
creates life! Ronny conducts
experiments in his basement laboratory, often causing accidental explosions.
One of the explosions manages to pry Mike and Nancy's lips apart long enough
for them to check on Ronny's well-being only to discover that Ronny has accidentally
created a pink goo that, when eaten, causes things to grow. A stray cat wanders
through the basement window (put a latch on that window, Nancy!), eats the goo,
and becomes the size of a Cadillac. Mike exclaims,
gonna make us a million bucks!"
Outside, Mike tests the goo on two ducks. The ducks grow to the sound of a sliding
steel guitar (An apparent odd goo side effect). Mike says, "With
the price of beef what it is, can you imagine how much money we could make with
cattle 5 times their size?" I can't imagine what a farmer would
do with a cow 5 times its size. The only problem is, Ronny cannot recreate the
goo. Mike and Nancy go to a dance club where the kids are twisting to a number
by The Beau Brummels. If you don't remember them appearing as cartoon characters
on the Flintstones, just imagine the Beatles wearing KFC ties.
Meanwhile, Beau Bridges and the gang break into a theatre that's "closed
for the season" (even though it's clearly summertime). They clean up,
helping themselves to the wardrobe department's costumes and makeup.
During the Beau Brummels' second number, a pair of gargantuan ducks enter the
room and ... (sigh) ... dance to the music. The
ducks are hilariously dangled on "invisible" fishing line to make it
appear they're dancing. The kids are not even surprised to see giant animals
on the dance floor. Mike shows up and proudly announces, "Hey, man... those
are my ducks!" Everyone
replies, "Cool!" (I wonder how cool they'd think it was
if the ducks were picking them off like grubs!). Mike makes the mistake of calling
the growth goo his "million dollar secret" and Beau Bridges, who's
old man is a "big man in
the beef business," ( I had no idea Lloyd
Bridges ran a beef business!) hatches a plan to discover his
secret. Next, we see the teenagers in a park barbequing a giant duck on a spit.
I'd love to see how they killed and plucked it! That must've been a god-awful
But enough talk, time to dance again! Some guy in a really bad striped sweater
sings to the crowd and, unfortunately, to us. Mike takes the necessary precautions
to safeguard the goo by locking it in a wood cabinet, adding, "This out
to be safe enough!" (Yes, Mike, it shouldn't
take more than one whack with a small kitchen hammer to
crack that baby open.) Suddenly, a giant tarantula attacks! Mike aggravates
it with a pitchfork before coming up with a plan to kill it: He electrocutes
the spider by dousing it with water from a broken pipe then breaking a light
bulb and throwing the empty electrical socket at the spider while Mike hangs
from a second pipe so as not to be grounded. I would've thought of that.
Later that night, as Mike and Nancy leave the house (still
Beau's gang climbs through Nancy's basement window. Will somebody please
lock that window! But enough intrigue...it's time for another song! Yet another
sappy singer croons to girls. Fortunately, his number only lasts about 10 seconds.
Meanwhile, back in the basement (where we were about 10 seconds ago), a member
of Beau's gang steps into Ronny's bear trap. This bear trap should have easily
severed his foot but instead is rigged to ignite fireworks in the basement which
shoot off into the sky. Let me say that again. The fireworks are lit in the basement...but
go off...in the sky.
Back in the park, Genius sees the fireworks display and yells "That's
my alarm!" Beau's gang is caught red-handed outside Nancy's house
with the goo. It's a dramatic standoff (As dramatic as a movie featuring
giant ducks can be, anyway). Then Beau's gang pushes Mike way too far, baiting
him into a taunting game of "keep-away"! They toss the jar of goo over
Mike's head again and again, just out of his reach! Nothing makes a person madder
than playing keep-away! OK, one thing does: When you pretend to hand it over,
then you pull back just as they go to reach for it! Psych!!! Oh! Mike is really
getting steamed now! Finally, Mike and Beau fight to the rhythm of bongo drums!
(By the way, Beau would go on to star in The Positively True Adventures of the
Alleged Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom. In your
face, Ronny Howard!!!) Soon, the scuffle escalates into a gang
fight and Beau walks off with the spoils of war! Which, in this case, is ...
um... pink goo.
Beau's gang heads back to the theatre (which
is apparently open 24-hours in case anyone has an urgent need
to act) and the gang pushes Beau into eating the goo. Remember
when I said nothing makes a guy madder than playing keep-away?
There is something worse: calling him a chicken! And then clucking
in his face! Oh, man! Y'know the problems in the Middle East started this way!
Of course, I can't back that up with ... y'know ... facts, but take it from
me its true!
They divide the goo evenly and consume it and of course they all begin to grow.
The effects used in this scene are hilarious because the teens are wearing
shirts already torn which are then pulled down, making it (kind of) look like
they're suddenly growing out of their clothes. The girls also outgrow their
clothing forcing them to cup their bosoms with their hands. This, also, is
a hilarious effect. In fact it's so funny, I watched it again and again (in
The colossal kids use brightly-colored stage curtains to make brightly-colored
outfits. They decide to go outdoors and enjoy themselves but the movie doesn't
explain how 100-ft-tall people get in and out through those tiny theatre doors.
Soon they're outside dancing again but this time in slow motion because everyone
knows giants move in slow motion. However, giants talk at normal speed. Actually,
moving while they talk is fine, they just can't walk around at normal speed
(It's all very complicated).
There's another great scene where a giant girl lifts a guy who ends up clinging
to her giant man-made cleavage. I'm not talking about Pamela Anderson-type
man-made cleavage but actual giant cleavage built like scaffolding by carpenters
(OK, just like Pam Anderson's). As the giant girl dances, there's a doll of
the guy attached to her chest and they cut back to a real guy clinging to giant
fake boobs. It's truly a bizarre piece of cinema.
Beau explains to the normal-size teens he wants to build a "kids vs adults." society.
But the little teens are freaked out and will have no part of big
Beau's plans. The sheriff arrives to break up the mob and somehow
fails to notice six gigantic teenagers standing right beside him. When
he finally notices, the sheriff isn't shocked, just slightly
annoyed saying, "Why don't
you go back to the theatre and wait for me there until we can figure this mess
out." Although the giant teens threaten to stomp the law, Beau ultimately
agrees to the sheriffs demands, leaving some in the group to wonder if Beau
is a chicken! Sorry, this is all the drama you're getting from this movie.
Back at the theatre, the giant teens have kidnapped the sheriff's young daughter
without permission from their leader Beau (Who would later reach worldwide
stardom for his role in "Elvis & The Colonel: The Untold Story." Oh,
yeah! Eat it, Ronny Howard!). Beau is upset about the kidnapping saying, "I
don't like this, see, and I am the guy who has the word around here!" Beau
knows baseball, but he's losing control of the giant teen brigade.
He can feel it. You can cut the tension with a knife (Or maybe just a stick.
A stick made of Nerf). The sheriff arrives with Mike who is apparently now
So how does the sheriff deal with six teenagers that have grown to gigantic
proportions? He orders them to leave town and never come back! (So the next
town has to deal with them? And what are their parents going to say about
their children's banishment?) But the questions are moot since big Beau will
have none of that! And with the sheriff's daughter a captive in their
giant hands, the sheriff has no choice but to lay down his rifle. Beau takes
this moment to read their list of demands which includes a 9 p.m. curfew
for all adults.
He assigns his buddy the mission to knock
out all communication including radios and tv stations (which,
unfortunately, we don't get to see). They also give the sheriff
the task of somehow rounding up all the guns in town and bringing
them to the theatre. Another sudden segue takes us back to Ronny
Howard's lab where he accidentally creates life! From one
of his beakers, a giant pink worm emerges and climbs down a sink
drain. "Back to the ol' drawing board," states the
now god-like Ronny.
In the next scene, everyone in town is lined up outside the theatre placing
their guns into a big box later that same day! That
was some fast work on the sheriff's part! And I have to ask again: How are
these giants getting in and out of the theatre without any signs of damage
to the building??? Following Beau's orders, Mike and four others show up with
several buckets of fried chicken and a dozen bottles of soda. Mike concludes
that in order to beat these guys, they need a hostage of their own.
When Beau goes out for a slow-motion stroll,
a bunch of teens in roadsters and motorcycles attempt to hogtie
him. They manage to trip him to the ground and tie him up but
Beau's gang captures Mike's girlfriend and they have no choice
but to release Beau (who played Richard Nixon in the made-for-cable
movie Kissinger & Nixon).
So, as it stands, the sheriff is helpless while his daughter is
in peril, so it's up to Mike to come up with a plan. They decide to distract
the giant boys with a beautiful red-headed go-go dancer while sucking down
tiny Cokes and drumsticks. Mike shows up outside using a sling to project rocks
through the theatre windows. (Theatres have windows?) When the giants hear
the ruckus, they suddenly appear outside. (How are they doing this???)
Beau tries repeatedly to spear Mike with telephone polls but
he constantly misses. Beau wisely sends someone to check on
the hostages. So while Mike's friends are inside trying
to overcome the giant guard, Mike is battling giant Beau with
a sling like David and Goliath. In the theatre, the kid who
played Marcus on the TV series The Rifleman, climbs
down a rope wearing a gas mask and carrying an ether-drenched
cotton ball the size of a bean bag chair. Once he's back on
top of the mammoth mammaries, he holds the cotton under her
nose until she passes out. The other teens rescue Nancy and
the sheriff's daughter.
Back at the lab, Ronny Howard's still-giant dog sniffs a beaker
filled with his latest concoction and poof! The dog is reduced
to normal size! The cure is found! Just as Mike is on the ropes
(and why wouldn't he be when his opponent is the size of a mountain!),
Ronny Howard shows up on his bike trailing an orange cloud of the
antidote behind him. He rides in circles around giant Beau and
the gang until the orange fumes return him to normal size (Oddly
enough, harpsichord music reduces their size). As soon as Beau
returns to normal size, Mike decks him. The teens flee before they
can be arrested. The sheriff makes no attempt to apprehend them
because apparently, kidnapping,
destruction of public property and attempted murder are misdemeanors.
the world is saved by Ronny Howard. But, just like Gary Coleman,
Ronny would never be heard from again in the world of entertainment.
Unless...Gary Coleman did make some movies ... No, I
cannot Google Gary Coleman movies. I can't!
Oh, alright ...
- Shafted! (2000)
- Like Father, Like Santa (1998)
- Gary Coleman for Safety's Sake in the Neighborhood (1986)
- Playing With Fire (1985)
- The Fantastic World of D.C. Collins (1983)
- Jimmy the Kid (1982)
- The Kid With the 200 I.Q. (1982)
- The Kid With the Broken Halo (1982)
- Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - A Blast for Buck (1980)
- The Kid From Left Field (1979)
Are you people happy now??? God ... I've just searched for Gary Coleman
movies ... someone hold me.
on this movie or review