There's not much more embarrassing as a film critic than the feeling one gets when checking out the DVD submission corner of the makeshift office and realizing that there's a submission that got missed - such was the case with Jack the Giant Killer, a 1962 B-movie, cheezy classic of sorts picked up by the fine folks at indie distributor Cheezy Flicks for a DVD release.
In the world of Cheezy Flicks, a low rating is almost an expectation given that the vast majority of their collection involves low-budget, no budget, godawful, B-movies, exploitation and other sub-genres of film often known more for their campy, guilty pleasure qualities than their actual cinematic quality.
Jack the Giant Killer is, strangely enough, a rather different experience.
As Sally Field would say, "I liked it. I really, really liked it."
There's no denying that Jack the Giant Killer is devoid of the technical and special effect prowess of similarly themed films. Directed by Nathan Juran, the film is a not so loose recreation of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, a film that had considerably greater success. In the film, an evil magician named Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) returns to Cornwall after having been exiled long ago. With a plan to kidnap Princess Elaine (Judi Meredith) to gain control of the kingdom from King Mark (Dayton Lummis), he arranges for a living doll in a music box to turn into a giant that kidnaps her, though she is rescued while held by a Cyclops type of figure named Cormoran and an evil dwarf named Garna (Walter Burke) by a farmer named Jack (Kerwin Mathews). Jack becomes knighted and is named Princess Elaine's protector, though the adventure that is set off involves risk and adventure at every turn.
Jack the Giant Killer is a G-rated family friendly adventure, not exactly common with Cheezy Flicks, and weaves together live action with animation - mostly notably a stop-motion animation that was fairly impressive in 1962 but will likely elicit giggles for most audiences these days.
Jack the Giant Killer is essentially a family friendly B-movie, though it's the kind of B-movie that you watch with a bit of fondness and appreciation. The performances range from decent, such as Kerwin Mathews and Torin Thatcher, to downright awful amongst many of the supporting players.
The special effects came from the Harryhausen school courtesy of Project Unlimited and Jim Danforth, a student under Harryhausen.
Jack the Giant Killer isn't a brilliant film, but it is a fun and cheezy film. It's an ideal selection for the Cheezy Flicks brand and I'm certainly glad I saw it sitting on the shelf so I could finally get this review completed. All Cheezy Flicks selections are priced reasonably. For more information, visit the Cheezy Flicks site linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic