Blu-ray Review: Jack the Giant Killer (1962)

STUDIO: Kino Lorber | DIRECTOR: Nathan Juran | CAST: Kerwin Matthews, Torin Thatcher, Judi Meredith, Don Beddoe, Walter Burke
RELEASE DATE: June 12, 2018 | PRICE: DVD $17.62, Blu-ray $19.99
BONUSES: musical version of film, commentary by film historian Tim Lucas
SPECS: G |  91 min. | Fantasy | 1.66:1 widescreen | DTS stereo | English subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes):
Movie   | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Upon its release in 1962, Jack the Giant Killer was considered to be a knock-off near-remake of 1958’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. And with the same director (Nathan Juran, First Men in the Moon), the same leading players (good guy Kerwin Mathews and baddie Torin Thatcher) and stop-motion monster effects in the style of Sinbad’s Ray Harryhausen mode (an uncredited  Jim Danforth)—not to mention a Sinbad-ish sailing quest, genie and princess.

So the original release is coloful but so-so, with the overall effects package being cheesy and Danforth’s creations paling next to the masterful Harryhausen’s. But in 1976, MC Productions Lilmited re-issued the film as…a musical! Large swaths of composers Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter original orchestral score were scrapped and in its place, a “Musical Process” produced Edwin Picker and Moose Charlap was inserted, featuring eight numbers written by Charlap with lyrics by Sandy Stewart. The film’s visuals and editing were also “altered”—slowed down, sped up, put on loop, repeated, and so on—to accommodate the new additions.

The results are downright loony! Following an altered opening credits sequences (gone is the bejeweled fairy tale book and in its place are some cutesy hand-drawn pictures), the movie proceeds along the same path, albeit with a “nicer,” more family-styled approach (not that the original was an “adult” film by any means). The weird-as-all-hell highlights here include “A Spectacle” (a bouncy number inserted as Jack disposes of some “menacing” mystical knights) and the love song “Because It’s True” that dubs in a singing version of the film’s original dialogue.

This re-envisioned musical version of Jack the Giant Killer is definitely worth a look-see for the curious, particularly those who think if they’ve seen one fantasy film, they’ve seen them all…

Buy or Rent Jack the Giant Killer

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.