The Cyclops

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The Cyclops

Post  BoG on Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:44 pm


Another of my most recent purchases from Sci-Fi Station - I finally watched this after making plans about a year ago (after reading about it while writing up the post for The Amazing Colossal Man). This was Bert I. Gordon's warm-up for his more famous Colossal Man movie. It's not as bad as I thought it would be since I'd read that it's one of the worst monster films of the fifties. Gordon actually manages to present some sophisticated characterizations for this type of fare.

The 4 main characters - 3 men & a woman - use a single-engine airplane to fly into a remote jungle valley in Mexico in search of the woman's fiancee. At least two of the guys are somewhat deficient, par for the course in these films. Lon Chaney Jr plays the prime troublemaker; his goal is to stake a claim for the uranium he feels sure he'll find there. Tom Drake plays an unemployable pilot. James Craig, playing a scientist, has the hots for the woman, played by Gloria Talbott. They manage to land safely but are 'not out of the woods' so to speak.
It's not long before they start to see giant animal life - a huge rodent is picked off by a giant hawk (this gigantic bird never flies out of the valley?). Later, we see a giant spider and a giant lizard. Then, enter the 5th character, the woman's fiancee, now a 25-foot tall one-eyed horror thanks to the radiation in this valley, which affects the pituitary glands of living things. Much of the action in the latter half takes place in the giant man's cave, a direct steal from the story of Odysseus and his encounter with a one-eyed cyclops.  cyclops
Dean Parkin played the grotesque yet pitiable Cyclops here; he was called on to basically reprise this role in War of the Colossal Beast (1958) and was then never again seen in films (guess he figured he was typecast). His noises, just like the Colossal Beast's, grate on the ears. Chaney hammed it up a bit but was the most memorable character - rumors persist that this was one of his roles where-in he was drunk most of the time, but he had a lot of dialog and handled it well. Gordon's subpar FX never advanced much beyond what we see here, though the Colossal Man's were a tad better. BoG's Score: 3 out of 10
At one point, it's stated (by scientist Craig) that animal growth is unlimited in this valley due to the situation with the radiation. This might have been a set-up for a sequel, in which the animals grew to such sizes that they began to spread beyond this valley. Maybe Gordon felt this would be copying Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells too much. Hey... waitaminnit; Food of the Gods? Is it just me or was Gordon kind of stuck in a rut?

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