Jack the Giant Killer

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Duchy of Cornwall of fairy tale days, the sorcerer Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) plots to gain power by abducting the Princess Elaine (Judi Meredith). To that end, he has fashioned a magic toy that is actually Cormoran the giant, and which is given to the Princess. When Cormoran seizes Elaine he takes her to a ship, but before it can sail a brave farm lad named Jack (Kerwin Mathews) slays the monster and rescues Elaine. In gratitude, King Mark (Dayton Lummis) makes Jack her protector and entrusts him to safely guide her to a convent across the sea. Pendragon learns of the plan and sends his witches to intercept Jack’s ship. Elaine is captured, while Jack and his friend, Peter (Roger Mobley) are cast overboard. An old Viking, Sigurd (Barry Kelley), rescues the two and introduces them to Diaboltin (Don Beddoe), a leprechaun imprisoned in a bottle. With the help of his new allies, Jack rescues Elaine from Pendragon’s castle. As the friends flee, Pendragon sends a two-headed giant called Galligantua along their path but Diablotin summons a monster from the sea to defeat it. As a last resort, Pendragon transforms himself into a dragon, but Jack slays him in a tense battle. With evil routed at last, all sail away to live happily ever after.


Ah…the wonders of stop-motion animation! There is just something about it that warms my cold, dead heart. Jack the Giant Killer doesn’t have this technique in leaps and bounds, as I was lead to believe, but there are quite a few creatures to behold.

What is this about?

Kerwin Mathews stars as Jack, a courageous hero who rescues a princess (Judi Meredith) from the evil clutches of the wizard Pendragon (Torin Thatcher) in this Nathan Juran-directed film that melds live action with Fantascope special-effects photography. Pendragon wants to be king of Cornwall and decides the only way is to force the present ruler’s daughter to marry him, but his plans are foiled when Jack slays Pendragon’s henchman.

What did I like?

Design. The design of the characters really caught my attention. The stop motion creatures are what they are, but the film’s main antagonist, Pendragon had quite the intriguing look. I wonder if this was inspired by or was the inspiration for Marvel Comics’ villainous Baron Mordo, the archrival of Dr. Strange. When you look at him, you can’t help but think so.

Lucky Charms. Leprechauns in the movies I’ve seen aren’t exactly handing out hearts, horseshoes, rainbows, clovers, and blue moons, but rather torturing poor souls and causing mischief. This is why I felt it was a nice change to see one of these on the side of good. Too bad he could only grant 3 wishes. I would have liked to have seen what else his magic could have done.

Stop-Motion. As I mentioned in the opening, I love stop-motion animation. To me it is a very pure form of creating creatures. This isn’t the best use of the technique, but it is still a sight to behold. The giants, sea creature, and final dragon are years ahead of their time.

What didn’t I like?

Special effects. Other than the stop motion, I can’t say that I was impressed with the special effects. Not being sure of how big the budget was on this, I can’t really comment on that, but it did seem to be quite cheap looking. The scene where the witches appear is nothing more than a different filter put on the camera lens. The magic from Pendragon is just some cheap theatrics. I didn’t really care for them and thought they could have done much better.

Plot. I had trouble about halfway through keeping up with what was going on because things got so befuddled. Luckily, everything returned to a steady calm, but there had to have been a better way to get through that oh-so-dreaded middle part of the film without totally losing the audience.

Jack be nimble. Kerwin Matthews wasn’t quite a believable leading man as I’m sure the studio expected him to. Yes, he did a decent job as Sinbad in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but if I recall that one correctly, it wasn’t the best of the franchise, so that isn’t saying much. I give the guy props for trying, and you can tell there was some actual talent there, this just wasn’t the best choice for him.

For those that don’t know, that movie that came out a couple of months ago, Jack the Giant Slayer is apparently a remake of Jack the Giant Killer. I detest and despise remakes with every fiber that is my being. Do I think this film deserves to be bastardized with a remake? No, but I am curious to see what they did with it. As far as if this is worth watching? Eh…it isn’t that great, to be honest. You’d be better off checking out one of the old Sinbad movies, rather than this, but this might keep you busy for a little over an hour, if you really want to watch.

3 out of 5 stars


One Response to “Jack the Giant Killer”

  1. […] Until I finished watching this, I was under the impression that this was a remake of Jack the Giant Killer, especially since that was the initial title, until they decided it would be better marketed toward […]

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