Friday, October 15, 2021

The Cyclops

The Cyclops
Bert I. Gordon

Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott) is searching for her missing fiancé, Bruce Barton (Duncan Parking). She manages to get together a small group to fly to a caldera where might have been. The caldera is filled with uranium which has mutated all the animals that live there. What might it have done to a person?

The Cyclops effectively works as another sequel to The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), it even came out the same year as that film and year before War of the Colossal Beast (1958) and the same actor played the monster in both The Amazing Colossal Man and The Cyclops. All three films are about a really big guy who is strangely difficult to track down. Like War of the Colossal Beast, both giant men have one working eye and a disfigured face. Bert I. Gordon had a vision, and that vision was big people occasionally with messed-up faces, or he had a single script and squeezed three movies out of it with only minor changes.


If you are familiar with other early films of Bert I. Gordon, they usually rely on using a simple optical effect to make animals and people appear much larger than they are. The Cyclops is no different than many of his other films. A band of adventurers wander around some trees and meet some giant animals for most of the running time until finally the title monster makes its appearance. In The Cyclops is no different, we get a parade of giant lizards, a tarantula on a string, a mouse, and a mouse-eating hawk. (In case you were wondering, some animals were harmed in this production, so fair warning).

Wisely, the script creates an emotional connection with Susan Winter looking for her fiancé who has gone missing for some time. When he shows up as a 25-foot giant with a melty face and one big eye we not only get a monster but a note of tragedy as well. Now, don’t go in expecting to cry at the end, it’s not quite that dramatic. Once Susan’s giant fiancé shows up, there no feasible way they can rescue him, and it feels hopeless because it is.

"Too much moisturizer!"

Gloria Talbott is fine if not exceptional as Susan Winter. She’s tasked with carrying the emotional weight of the film but is hindered by the paper-thin script and the fact that she has to scream at everything that moves. The other male leads are not that interesting, save for Lon Chaney Jr. who seems obsessed with yelling and making sure his scintillator is shiny. He’s far and away the most fun character simply because the film benefits from the tension of having an actual antagonist, something The Amazing Colossal Man films lack.

The Cyclops is a fairly standard 1950s giant atomic horror films and a carbon copy of other films from the same director. While this one didn’t benefit from a rise in popularity from being featured on MST3K, while both Amazing Colossal Man films did, it’s solid enough for a fan of this subgenre of film to find some enjoyable things. It you’re relatively new to the world of Bert I. Gordon, it’s not the worst place to start and is in fact a good representation of his 1950s-1960s output.

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