The Giant Gila Monster / The Killer Shrews (Film Masters) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots + Packaging Shots

Film Masters brings us two 50s sci-fi classics with their brand new blu-ray of The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews.

Studio: Film Masters
Release Date: June 25th, 1959 (both films) / September 26th, 2023 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 14 minutes 39 seconds (The Giant Gila Monster) / 1 hour 8 minutes 43 seconds (The Killer Shrews)
Region Code: FREE
Disc Count: 2 (BD-50)
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 and 1.33:1 aspect ratios) (both films)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (both films)
Subtitles: English SDH, English subtitles for the commentary tracks (both films)
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Don Sullivan, Fred Graham, Lisa Simone, Shug Fisher, Bob Thompson (The Giant Gila Monster) / James Best, Ingrid Goude, Ken Curtis, Gordon McLendon, Baruch Lumet (The Killer Shrews)
Written by Ray Kellogg, Jay Simms (The Giant Gila Monster) / Jay Simms (The Killer Shrews)
Directed by Ray Kellogg (both films)
Rating: Not Rated (creature violence) (both films)




What's It About?

A couple of teenagers are reported missing in a small Texas town, and it is thought they eloped. Sheriff Jeff turns to his friend Clarence Winstead, a garage mechanic and leader of a hot-rod gang, for help. After a series of tragic motor accidents, it becomes apparent that a giant Gila monster is roaming the area depleting the town of its citizens and visitors, including two hot-rodding teens, and planning to attend the BIG record-hop party. (The Giant Gila Monster)

A disparate group are trapped on a remote island by a hurricane. On the island, a doctor works to make humans twice as small as we already are. This, apparently, will help prevent over population. Unfortunately, his experiments have also created some giant shrews. As the shrews run out of smaller animals to eat, they move in on the people in the house. (The Killer Shrews)


Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, along with the TV version aspect ratio of 1.33:1, both films look great. Film grain is present all the way through the film and can be a bit on the heavy side at times (THE KILLER SHREWS not so much). Detail can be high at times with closeups giving us the best opportunities. Blacks are deep and the grayscale is just right. It appears that THE GIANT GILA MONSTER was from a fresher scan than THE KILLER SHREWS but that doesn't mean that SHREWS looks bad. It just looks a bit lesser than GILA. There are a few shots here and there that appear to be taken from a much worse source than the other footage in THE KILLER SHREWS  There are a few specs here and there but other than that, both films are nice to look at.


Disc 1: The Giant Gila Monster

Commentary (with subtitles) I was surprised by how academic this track was. I was expecting more jokes and whatnot but that is not the case. The track is fine but not what I thought it would have been. I have to give it to Film Masters for subtitling the commentary track. I have only seen that a few times and it is a very welcome inclusion.
Original trailer for The Giant Gila Monster (1m 40s, HD, 1.78:1)
Recorded interview with Don Sullivan (1h 32m, HD, 1.78:1) This very informative interview with actor Don Sullivan was conducted by author Bryan Senn in 2009 and spans the actor's entire career. This is no video. Only screenshots from the film.

Disc 2: The Killer Shrews

Commentary for The Killer Shrews - Professor and film historian Jason A. Ney provides a very informative commentary track that is pretty academic but not in a stuffy way. He comes across as a personable guy. Like the track found on the THE GIANT GILA MONSTER disc, this track is subtitled. 
Ray Kellogg - An Unsung Master documentary (16m 12s, HD, 1.85:1) This has to be one of the most unlikely stories I have ever heard come out of Hollywood. It reminded me of Jim Muro, who directed the "most Troma film Troma didn't make", Street Trash
Vintage radio spots for The Giant Gila Monster and The Killer Shrews (12m 43s, HD, 1.78:1) I don't think I have ever seen this many radio spots for two films. Usually, we get a few of them but not here. 

This is my first blu-ray from Film Masters, as well as being their first blu-ray too, and I have to say that I am loving what they have done with the packaging. The front cover features the film's original theatrical poster along with a smaller bit from the THE KILLER SHREWS poster. Inside the case, we get two blu-ray discs, one for each film, with a bit of each film's poster as their respective disc art. Each disc also contains information about what said disc includes.  Also included is a 22-page, glossy booklet with essays about each film from Don Stradley (THE GIANT GILA MONSTER) and Jason A. Ney (THE KILLER SHREWS) along with screenshots from the films and poster art (this includes a double feature poster that spans two pages). I can't tell you how happy this packaging makes me feel. It is perfect for the release.

Both discs are REGION FREE


THE GIANT GILA MONSTER is a hoot. I have very fond memories of seeing this in the theater, at a 24-hour sci-fi marathon at the old Portage Theater in Chicago (now closed). I have loved the film ever since and watching it this time brought back those memories. I had never seen THE KILLER SHREWS and I am happy to say that it has become a favorite of mine. Both of these films are shit but they are so good for being shit. 

Film Masters enters the blu-ray game with all guns blazin'. Both films look and sound far better than anyone was expecting and the special features are all worth the time. Each film has a commentary track with THE GIANT GILA MONSTER getting an interview with the film's star and THE KILLER SHREWS getting a doc about Ray Kellogg. With these films being on the short side (less than 75 minutes each), this entire release could be gone through in an evening. I am championing Film Masters based on this release and am looking forward to what they bring us next.


The Giant Gila Monster

The Killer Shrews



The Giant Gila Monster

The Killer Shrews



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