Wednesday, March 13, 2013

CineBites - The Cyclops (1957)

A cheapie from master schlockmeister, Bert I. Gordon, The Cyclops is a fun little 66 minute time waster starring Gloria Holden and Lon Chaney Jr.  Ms. Holden hires an expedition to search for her fiancee, who's plane crashed three years earlier in the Mexican wild. She believes that he is still alive, and will stop at nothing to find him.  Lon Chaney Jr. has funded the trip, but his motives are much different.  He's searching for Uridium and plans to make his fortune on it.  That same radioactive material is what's causing the local wildlife to grow to enormous size.  Of course they find her fiancee, but he's now a twenty five foot tall Cyclops.  

Sadly, you can really tell that Chaney's alcoholism was in full effect.  Not only is this one of his lesser efforts, but you can really feel the difference in his acting.  In the scene in which the four characters are in the plane, you can clearly see that Chaney is sweating bullets while the rest of the actors are perfectly dry.  Chaney's voice was also getting pretty gruff in this film, which is a bit off putting.  This is miles away from his performance in The Wolf Man.
As for the monsters, we see a giant hawk devour a giant rat, two giant lizards battle and of course, The Cyclops himself.  There's also a giant snake that The Cyclops fights.  The special effects are anything but, with Gordon's classic use of rear projection....which makes the monsters semi-transparent.  A lot of people knock his films for this problem, but to be honest....I find it to be part of their charm.

If you've got an hour to kill and you're looking for a cheap and cheesy monster flick, then you can do worse than The Cyclops.  If you are a fan of Chaney, then this film might be a bit of a disappointment, as it is rather heartbreaking watching his downward spiral into alcoholism.  

Three out of Five Pizza Rolls

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