Jack The Giant Killer (1962) – movie review

Jack the Giant Killer coverJack The Giant Killer (1962)

This fairytale film is based upon stories from the book of the same name. The King of Cornwall celebrating his daughter‘s birthday, befalls an evil scheme. Princess Elaine, is kidnapped by a giant, but before the giant can make his getaway, he is slain by Jack, a simple farm hand. The evil wizard, Pendragon, then sends witches to kidnap the princess and is successful. He puts a spell over the princess and declares, he and she will be married, therefore making him the new King. However, Jack, along with new comrades, a Viking, a young boy and a leprechaun, invade Pendragon’s lair and save the princess once again. Pendragon summons a two-headed giant to exact revenge but the leprechaun summons a dragon to battle with the beast. Jack and the dragon defeat the giant and sail away, leaving Pendragon in his exiled land.

jack killer 5I saw this for the first time when I was about eight years old and thought it was fantastic. It was soon after that I discovered the secret of stop-motion animation. As an adult, I can clearly see that the animation is not nearly as detailed or smooth as the work from Harryhausen or as realistic as O’Brien’s work. The film’s script is decent enough and could hold-up to much of the famed mythology films (the Sinbad films, Jason and the Argonauts, etc.) However, the claymation is more aligned to children’s shows, especially evident when it comes to the dragon. It would seem that since the story was a fairytale, perhaps the filmmakers didn’t want the monsters to be too realistic or too scary despite showing a bleeding giant and some skeletal creatures.

The first giant in the film is enjoyable to watch, but the effects take a downhill turn from there on out.  It is for this reason that the film does not stand the test of time compared to its monster movie predecessors and mythological successors. If you’re a fan of stop-motion like me, you’ll probably want this in your collection. Just don’t let anyone catch you watching it and really digging it, unless you’re sharing it with your young son.