Friday, 23 December 2016

THE CYCLOPS












d. Bert I. Gordon (1957)

A group of pushy Americans looking for a lost pilot crash land in a mysterious Mexican valley. The trip has been organised by the pilot's girlfriend who, even after three years, can't accept that he is dead. On the plus side, the valley is filled with million of dollars of raw uranium; on the down side, it's inhabited by a  menagerie of enormous creatures, many times their normal size: lizards, insects, rats, eagles, snakes and, most memorably, a twenty five foot tall nappy wearing man beast with one eye, terrible teeth and a partially melted face. Is he friendly? Not so much. Could he conceivably hold the secret to the mystery of the missing man? I wonder... 

I particularly like the scenes of the Cyclops menacing people. Lacking depth perception, he rather struggles to grab them, so we're just left with a poorly back projected hairy hand jabbing pointlessly at the actors (at one point accidentally tearing away the backdrop). The cast, which includes Lon Chaney, Jr. as a loveable dirtbag, don't seem to quite know what they are reacting to and their blank, confused faces combine with poorly executed special effects to provide a very silly 64 minutes.

The Cyclops, who (of course, it's so obvious now!) turns out to be the missing pilot, ends up being speared in his remaining eye and left to die. It's rather cruel: he didn't ask to be marooned in that radiation choked valley and get mutated into a horrible giant, after all. His once devoted girlfriend, having quickly realised the drawbacks of being involved with an ugly, angry monster, is in the arms of another man before her massive ex-beau has even fallen over and died.    

Director, writer and producer Bert I. Gordon ('Mr. B.I.G') obviously liked the concept (and the make up) revisiting it in both The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and its sequel War Of The Colossal Beast (1958), although in these films the mutation is the result of plutonium bomb testing.    

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