Remaking A Classic-Giant Gila Monster

from Justin Beahm Famous Monsters of Filmland

Indie legend and Corman go-to-guy Jim (CHOPPING MALL, RETURN OF THE SWAMP THING) Wynorski is helming a remake of the notorious 1959 Ray Kellogg creature feature THE GIANT GILA MONSTER. FAMOUS MONSTERS sat down with Jim to chat about the project and share some production pics. The film, aiming for SyFy release in 2012, is currently shooting in Franklin, Indiana, just outside Indianapolis, and is being produced by Bill (MONSTER CRUISE, CAMEL SPIDERS) Dever.

Despite wearing it’s meager budget on it’s sleeve, the original GILA made an impression on Wynorski that endured as he made his way in Hollywood. “I saw it on TV when I was a kid, and even then I understood it was a cheaply made movie,” shares the director. “It didn’t have a big budget, but it had a cool premise with the hot rods and rock n’ roll. When the film fell into public domain, it was always in the back of my mind to do my own take on it, and when the situation arose where I could do it, I jumped at the chance.”

“I am doing it in the style of the 1950′s, with old cars, the clothes and the lingo of that time,” continues the filmmaker. “”We are keeping the song ‘Laugh, Children, Laugh’ from the original, along with the basic story line. Our story differs a little from the original, in that we have added some characters. A good bad guy and his girlfriend, who give a little more motivation to Chase, the lead (played by Brian Gross). Chase still has his girlfriend, his mother, and his polio-stricken sister, and he still likes rock n’ roll and hot rod racing. We delineated the DJ. He doesn’t directly interact with the main characters, and this time around is more like Wolfman Jack was in AMERICAN GRAFFITI, heard over the radio.”

As for the titular beastie, Wynorski was careful not to revisit the approach taken in the original, where an actual gila monster was shot over miniatures and inserted via overlay. “There are no practicals. I don’t want to hurt any animals. In the original they were forcing that poor little gila monster through the balsa wood wall he goes through at the dance and stuff, and I think with today’s CG we can do better and not hurt any animals.” The creature is reportedly sleeker, more agile, and will be more of a mutant than the cute lizard in the original.

The cast includes Kelli (CHOPPING MALL, NIGHT OF THE COMET) Maroney, Don Sullivan, who played Chase in the original GILA MONSTER, Teri (TOUR OF DUTY) Knox, Christina (PIRANHACONDA) DeRosa, along with many Midwestern locals. Tony (TICKS) Randel is editing.

Summarizes Wynorski, “It has a lot of things people love. It’s got hot rods, rock n’ roll, hot chicks, a monster, and the cache of the original.”