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August 2001

Download the word version, perfect for printing and handing out on street corners!
In this issue:    The Midget Monkey Menace!   Attack of the Crappy Titles!   Rock Star 101!   PLUS: Learn to read with Batturtle!   The Socio-Economics of Giant lizards!   And 10 Reasons to Hate ASH!
Cult pick 'o the month:
The Giant Gila Monster *****


Finally, a movie has come along that uses the oft-derided Hollywood structure to address a real, contemporary social issue. I'm sick of all these shallow, empty formula pictures about the triumph of the human spirit and the power of love, I want a film that actually means something, a movie with a message, a film like 1959's The Giant Gila Monster. As you all know, and I shouldn't have to spell this out for regular PULP readers, as a film reviewer, I won't watch just about anything. I pick and choose my films carefully, because my time is valuable, so only the best zombie movies, cheerleader pornography, and in this case giant lizard films make the cut, because heaven forbid I waste valuable napping time by watching a sub-par Godzilla picture. So, it's not surprising that it has taken me a while to get around to seeing The Giant Gila Monster, what with so many quality recent releases like Crocodile 2, I Zombie, and Lesbian Cheerleader Squad taking up my movie-watching hours. But it was worth the wait, because Gila has what so many films today don't: heart. For buried deep within the cheesy tale of a radioactive lizard terrorizing a group of Texas hicks reading their lines off cue-cards with an amusing amount of difficulty lies a remarkably perceptive and subtly metaphoric analysis of societal economics. The giant Gila monster is clearly intended to represent the lumbering and exponentially growing Mexican economy, while the barely literate Texans are quite obviously meant to symbolize the inherent fragility of an American economic system grown weak and unprepared for a trade battle. Or so I would assume, not actually having gotten around to watching the film quite yet. But from what I understand from the brief plot synopsis on the back of the DVD case, I'm not too far off the mark. You see, it's long been the tradition of 50s era creature-features to bury some variety of social concern into the subtext of the film, like Invasion of the Body Snatchers' implicit fear of communism, the dangers of atomic testing demonstrated in The Beast From 20 000 Fathoms, and the deep-seated concerns regarding giant vegetables presented in The Thing From Another World, and I see no reason why The Giant Gila Monster should be any different. I mean, what with the growing concerns about the cheap Mexican work-force drawing the interest of major American industrial manufacturers, it's hard not to liken the Mexican economy to a giant ravening beast feasting upon America. And, just like Gila monsters, Mexicans have scaly skin and are poisonous, so the comparison isn't all that far-fetched. While the plot blurb I read wasn't all that informative, as it contained only one poorly spelled run-on sentence that appeared to be about another film entitled Atom Age Vampire, one can only assume that the movie also addresses another major concern regarding Mexican-American relations, namely the issue of illegal immigrants. Clearly, the invasion of the giant Gila monsters, assuming the budget allowed for more than one lizard, is an obvious allusion to the growing problem of Mexican border jumpers. For those of you not informed about this issue, there's actually a huge problem in the southern states with illegal Mexican immigrants who hop the border in the hope that American sweat-shops are slightly less roach infested than the Mexican ones. And, from what I've pieced together from various news reports, Hard Copy-type TV specials, and what I imagine this film to be like, these Mexicans are the greatest threat that humanity has ever known, as they are giant man-eating lizards. Sure, they may have contributed a great deal to modern western culture, bringing us Taco Bell, masked wrestler El Santos, and explosive diarrhea, but what have they done for us lately, aside from eating a bunch of gun-toting Texans? Nothing, and quite frankly, it astounds me that an entire country full of vicious blood-thirsty lizard-men has existed so long and so close without some variety of Australian dingo-fence-like device being erected to keep the inhuman creatures out before they either devour Southern California or create another irritating Macarena-esque dance craze. I suppose it's because not enough people saw the brilliant cautionary work of art that is The Giant Gila Monster, and I for one intend to rectify that error right now. By actually watching it. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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