dr_hermes (dr_hermes) wrote,

Rock Bottom Series: THE CYCLOPS (1957)

"Son, you're not going to get very far on your looks."

This is barely watchable. As a little kid, I spent many happy hours sitting on the living room floor, inches away from the television set in the middle of the night so I could watch old horror and science fiction movies. I wasn't demanding; as long as there was a payoff of some sort at the end, it was worth all the waiting through cheap local commercials I("My daddy says to buy your next car at FLY BY NIGHT dealership"). But even as a ten-year-old with a hyperactive imagination, THE CYCLOPS gave me no joy.

The darndest thing is that Bert I. Gordon was apparently doing an imitation of his own flick here. THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN was not a timeless classic, but at least it had some vitality and enthusiasm; it was good cheesy fun. This hound drags and stalls for what seems forever, sleepwalks through what should be the action highlights and fades out on an uninspired ending. Why did Gordon make this thing? Was it supposed to be a sequel to COLOSSAL MAN (which was in any case made as WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST?)

Okay, Gloria Talbot is always cool. She had a very interesting, expressive face that was not the typical Hollywood Barbie doll. I liked her performance in I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, but she doesn't have much to work with here. Gloria plays an intended bride who decides to find out whatever happened to hjer fiancee, whose plane went down somewhere in Mexico. Assembling a pilot, a macho guide and an unlikely millionaire (played by Lon Chaney Jr of all people), she leads the belated rescue party. To everyone's delight, the area is filled with huge animals. A giant gopher (promptly pounced on by an even bigger hawk), some wrestling lizards and so forth.

There's also the Cyclops, a twenty foot high geek in a loincloth. This character evidently has some cranial damage, as he groans and moans constantly for no reason and seems only vaguely aware of what's going on around him. The makeup is not awesome or scary, just nasty and unpleasant. One half of his face is covered with sloppy flesh, the other eye bugs out like a glass ball barely in place, and teeth protrude from one side of his face. (The similar Colossal Beast look was much better conceived and more convincing.)

Nothing worth watching happens, not even a sluggish tangle with a dazed python by the Cyclops. When Lon Chaney isn't glancing about in obvious complete confusion, he throws out a few avaricious comments that guarantee his character won't make it to the final credits. Then the guide guides the bright idea to make a burning spear (he evidently had read his Homer back in school) and he lures the Cyclops to its fate in a slack way that makes it look as if neither one of them cared what happened.

You have to be forgiving of cheesy special effects in drive-in movies. Rubber suits with visible zippers, bats dangling from fishing line, stock footage that doesn't match the rest of the movie in any way.... I can take it all with open arms and enjoy the experience. But the effects here are so substandard, even for Bert I. Gordon, that it seems clear he just wasn't trying. At one point the Cyclops snatches up Gloria and (wait for it) the small square travelling matte itself is moved up and to the left against a black screen. That hurt my feelings, Bert.

Tags: drive-in classics, obscure movies
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