Oct 27, 2012

Village of the Giants

Tommy Kirk's first movie after he was outed and fired by Disney was Village of the Giants (1965), which I saw at a kiddie matinee on my first date in October 1968.

A small town full of rednecks and inept police officers, the sort frequently overrun by giant ants or Commie body snatchers during the 1950s, gets a different sort of invasion: six hippies who play loud music and smart off to authority figures.  Oddly, though the group is of mixed sexes, none of them seem to be heterosexually involved, and no one displays more than a passing interest in the ogling of the other sex: it’s boys on one side, girls on the other.

Meanwhile, nice teenager Mike (Tommy Kirk) spends about ten minutes demonstrating that he is heterosexual by kissing up a girl, but then he descends to the basement nightworld of her pint-sized brother Genius (Ronnie Howard, future star of Happy Days).  Genius has invented a concoction called “goo,” which transforms dogs, birds, and people into giants.

After ridiculing the nice teens at a local hotspot, the hippies steal the goo, figuring that they can use it to create more mischief.  They eat it and shoot up to thirty feet tall, in the process shredding their clothes.

Director Bert I. Gordon previously accentuated the beefcake in several B-movies, including The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and The Boy and the Pirates (1960), and his camera lingers lovingly on the thick arms and sculpted torsos of the boys, including a young Beau Bridges.

And a very sexy Tim Rooney (Mickey Rooney’s son), while all but ignoring the girls.

The giant hippies conclude that the Revolution has come, the Establishment has been defeated, and youth are in charge of this brave new world.  They don Roman-style togas that enhance the boys’ musculature, and celebrate by dancing semi-nude  in slow motion in the town square.

So far, in spite of the beefcake, we have a heterosexist fable, like A Cold Day in the Park, in which establishment heterosexuals face off against the sexual ambiguity of the counterculture.

But when Genius develops an antidote to the goo, Mike dumps his girl to hook up with Horsey (Johnny Crawford of The Rifleman, left, looking jealous on a title card).  They administer the antidote by catapulting Horsey directly onto the bosom of one of the giant girls.

In many situations a human missile fired onto a bosom would be overbrimming with heterosexual undertones, but in this case Horsey is attacking, literally trying to destroy the symbol of monstrous femininity.  When he falls and seems stunned, Mike rushes to his aid.  The manly love of comrades  wins out over heterosexual practice, however aggressively pursued.