director Nathan H. Juran
Nathan H. Juran is not a major name in horror and science fiction cinema, but it isn’t for lack of work or even lack of notable works. From The Deadly Mantis (1957), 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), The Brain from Planet Arous (1958), Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), to First Men in the Moon (1964), he made a lot of pictures with a lot of special effects. Though he’s probably best known for the films in which Ray Harryhausen provided the stop-motion action, Juran rose from the art department and worked with a number of creative teams.
Jack the Giant Killer is almost a knock-off of his more classic The 7th Voyage of Sinbad with Harryhausen. They brought back hero Kerwin Mathews and villain Torin Thatcher and straight-up ripped off Harryhausen’s Cyclops from the earlier film. The monster designs and execution of the action are by no means up to Harryhausen’s level, but there’s actually quite a bit of action and creatures here.
“Captain! More witches on the quarterdeck!”
Jack (Mathews) does slay a giant. He also fights another two-headed giant but that one is really slain by the octo-whatever-serpent. My personal favorites are the witches, which are not stop-motion but oddly-costumed ladies with different powers that attack in glowing color-tinted action, setting animated fire to the ship and blowing wind all around. They’re really almost like a cavalcade of television kaiju characters.