Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DR. CYCLOPS


DR. CYCLOPS (1940). Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack.

"In our very heads, we have the cosmic force of creation itself!"

Very mad scientist Alexander Thorkel (Albert Dekker) uses radium ore to shrink animals and people to doll size. His victims include Dr. Bulfinch (Charles Halton), mineralogist Bill Stockton (Thomas Coley), Dr. Mary Robinson (Janice Logan), mule owner Steve Baker (Victor Kilian), and houseman Pedro (Frank Yaconelli). The picture features a still-impressive combination of back projection and excellent out-sized props to create a credible illusion as the five shrunken humans try to outwit and stay out of the hands of Thorkel, as well as to avoid becoming victims of now giant-sized cats and alligators. One wishes, however, that the film had a lot more intensity, better actors (although Dekker is fine, and Halton almost as good), more dramatic direction, and a different score. A remake would be in order. Compared to other films with miniaturized humans, this is better than Devil Doll, much better than Attack of the Puppet People (which it clearly inspired), and not as good as Fantastic Voyage or The Incredible Shrinking Man. Kilian also appeared in Unknown World.

Verdict: Lightweight sci fi, but reasonably entertaining and well-done. ***.

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