Attack of the 50 Foot Woman


1h 31m 1958
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

Brief Synopsis

A space visitor's touch turns an unhappy heiress into a vengeful giant.

Film Details

Also Known As
Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, The Astounding Giant Woman
Genre
Horror
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jun 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Woolner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
5,882ft

Synopsis

A number of sightings of an enormous, glowing red ball are reported from around the world, heading in the direction of the western United States. One evening shortly after the sightings, heiress Nancy Fowler Archer, distraught over another quarrel with her husband, nearly crashes headlong into a red spherical object in the California desert and in her panic, stalls the car. Nancy becomes hysterical when a gigantic figure emerges from the sphere and reaches for her. At Tony's bar in the nearby town, Nancy's husband Harry sits with his girl friend, Honey Parker, drinking and discussing how they might get Nancy's fortune. When Nancy, who spent time in a sanitarium after she and Harry temporarily separated, runs into town barefoot and frantically relates her sighting, Sheriff Dubbitt assumes she has had a relapse. In order to placate her, Dubbitt agrees to return to the desert with her and his deputy Charlie to search for the sphere and the giant, but the group finds only Nancy's abandoned car. Dubbitt cautions Nancy of the dangers of wearing her famous Star of India diamond while driving alone, but, angry at being disbelieved, Nancy returns home. There, Nancy bitterly demands that Harry leave, declaring they should never have reconciled, even though she is still in love with him. Despite Harry's cool attitude, Nancy reveals her fantastic experience in the desert, pleading with him to believe her. Harry mollifies Nancy, then gives her a sleeping draught before returning to Tony's. There he tells Honey that Nancy is apparently suffering from emotional duress again and he may be able to recommit her and gain legal control of her estate. The next day, Harry contacts Nancy's private physician, Dr. Cushing, hoping he will agree with his plans for Nancy, but the doctor warns him that Nancy could not endure another sanitarium stay. Later that day, Nancy accuses Harry of blatantly conducting his affair with Honey and of trying to return her to the sanitarium. She insists her experience in the desert was real and demands that Harry drive her into the desert to find the sphere. When she promises that if they cannot locate the object she will accept institutionalization, Harry agrees, despite the protests of Nancy's loyal, longtime butler, Jessup Stout. Harry and Nancy drive through the desert all day with no results, but just at sunset, Nancy spots the sphere. Harry grows panicky when Nancy runs toward the huge ball, and when the giant again emerges, Harry fire several pistol shots at it with no effect. The giant grabs Nancy, who screams for help, but Harry runs away in terror. Harry returns to the house and begins packing. When Jess demands to know Nancy's whereabouts, Harry hits him and after a brief fistfight, leaves. Jess telephones Dubbitt, and Charlie intercepts Harry and Honey as they attempt to leave her hotel. Dubbitt locates Nancy, unconscious and strangely burned, atop the roof of her poolhouse, and Cushing tends to her. When Charlie brings Harry and Honey to the house, Cushing reveals he believes that Nancy has suffered radiation burns and has strange cuts about her neck. Harry and Honey depart and Honey relates having overheard Cushing caution his nurse that the slightest increase of Nancy's medication could be fatal. Harry agrees to return that night and give Nancy an overdose of the medication, but upon sneaking back into the house is horrified to find that Nancy has mutated into a giant. The next morning, Cushing has the still unconscious Nancy chained and consults with specialist Dr. Von Loeb. Meanwhile, Dubbitt and Charlie discover an enormous series of footprints in Nancy's garden. Dubbitt and Jess follow the tracks into the desert and discover the red sphere. They explore inside and find Nancy's diamond and others apparently used for fuel. When the men see the giant, they run away, but the creature gives chase and destroys their car. After Dubbitt hurls grenades at the giant, it returns to the sphere, which then disappears into the night sky. Back at the Archers', Nancy awakens and begins screaming for Harry. Charlie finds Harry at Tony's with Honey, but, having decided to withhold all approval for medical treatment for Nancy, Harry refuses to return. Cushing and Von Loeb attempt to tranquilize Nancy with an elephant syringe, but she rouses and, breaking the chains, bursts out of the house in search of her husband. Charlie finds Dubbitt and Jess walking back from the desert and when they return to the Archers', discover the house in shambles and learn of Nancy's escape. The giant Nancy arrives in town and, as people flee in terror, destroys Honey's hotel looking for Harry. Charlie returns to Tony's and desperately tries to convince the drunken Harry to hide. When Nancy attempts to break into Tony's, Harry shoots at her, to no avail. Nancy then rips the roof off of Tony's and drops a beam on Honey, killing her. Nancy then snatches Harry and carries him off, crushing him in her fist. Dubbitt fires several shotgun blasts at Nancy without effect, but as she walks by the city power lines, he fires again and the lines explode, shocking Nancy, who staggers, then collapses, dead, still clutching Harry's lifeless body.

Film Details

Also Known As
Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, The Astounding Giant Woman
Genre
Horror
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Jun 1958
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Woolner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Film Length
5,882ft

Articles

Attack of The 50 Foot Woman (1958) - Attack of The 50 Foot Woman


Not only is Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) the quintessential drive-in movie, it was made with drive-in money. Producer Bernard Woolner and his brothers Lawrence and David had founded a chain of drive-in theaters in the American Deep South in the years immediately following the Second World War. Business for the Woolners was profitable enough for the brothers to expand into film distribution (with Roger Corman's Swamp Women in 1956) and production (beginning with Corman's Teenage Doll in 1957). The title Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was Bernard Woolner's invention, no doubt inspired by the behemoth box office of Eugne LouriŽ's The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Jack Arnold's Tarantula (1955), Ishiro Honda's Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954, released in the US in 1956) and Bert I. Gordon's The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), whose scenarist, Mark Hanna, Woolner tapped for this project.

Partnered with Woolner on production of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was Jacques Marquette. The native New Yorker was a former Technicolor staffer and Hollywood camera operator who longed to establish himself within the industry as a cinematographer. He had taken the proactive step of establishing his own production company, in a bid to finance his own films and hire himself as a director of photography. Marquette and his partners had lost their shirts on The Brain from Planet Arous (1957) and two other films due to their association with unscrupulous distributors Howco International, who had fronted the low budgets for shooting but cheated Marquette Productions of its share of the net profits. For Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Woolner secured a budget of $99,500 from distributors Allied Artists and with Marquette hired The Brain from Planet Arous director Nathan Juran to pull the picture together.

The Austria-born Juran studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before heading to California with the sole intention of staying warm. During World War II, he was assigned to director John Ford's unit and used his skills as a draftsman to determine the dimensions of enemy structures in captured photographs for the Office of Strategic Services. Juran's drafting skills translated well to work with the art departments at 20th Century Fox and Universal, where he shared an Academy Award for art direction for Ford's How Green Was My Valley (1941). He became a director when Universal hired him to replace Joseph Pevney on The Black Castle (1952), starring Boris Karloff. Juran honed his craft on swashbucklers, westerns and crime films and subspecialized in science fiction and fantasy with Universal's The Deadly Mantis (1957) and Columbia's Twenty Million Miles to Earth (1957) and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958).

Juran had agreed to direct The Brain from Planet Arous for union scale with the proviso that he be billed as Nathan Hertz, using his middle name. He insisted on the same credit for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, again fearing that the material was subpar and likely to damage his status in the studio system. Despite a budget that was nearly double that of The Brain from Planet Arous, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman had to make do with primitive special effects, resulting in an intergalactic spacecraft constructed from pegboard, a giant hand that would not pass muster in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the climactic transformation of heroine Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes) into the most unjolly of giants accomplished via an obvious double exposure that renders her ghostly when she should be larger and in charge. Happily, Juran's handling of the actors is assured and playful, while Marquette's camerawork is surprisingly expressionistic throughout and Ronald Stein's jazzy score a toe tapping success.

Shot in only eight days, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was brought in under-budget at $89,000 - and luckily, with no injuries. According to co-star Yvette Vickers in an interview with Ted Okuda for Filmfax, shooting the climax was daunting. "There's that scene where all the lumber from the cafe roof falls down," she recalled, "and one of the wooden beams crushes the table I'm supposed to be hiding under. And afterwards, there's a shot where I'm lying there with all the debris around me. Well, after we filmed that scene, I looked up and noticed there was a nail on a board that was about two inches from my head. It could have gone right into my skull! But who thinks things like that are going to happen?"

The film grossed $480,000 in its initial theatrical run, a profit margin shared this time with Marquette Productions. Jacques Marquette went on to a busy career as a for-hire cinematographer, shooting Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood (1959), Burt Topper's The Strangler (1964) and Dan Curtis' Burnt Offerings (1976), in addition to episodes of such popular TV series as Sea Hunt, That Girl and Hawaii 5-0. Due to its title and ropey special effects, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is considered a schlock classic by more people than have actually watched it. Remade for cable television in 1993 (with Daryl Hannah in the title role), the film was spoofed in Fred Olen Ray's Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds (1995) and has endured as a pop culture touchstone. The original one sheet, a vivid Reynold Brown illustration of a supersized Nancy Archer straddling an elevated freeway, fetches thousands of dollars on the collector's market and was short-listed by Premiere magazine in 2008 as one of the "25 Best Movie Posters Ever".

Producer: Bernard Woolner
Director: Nathan Hertz
Screenplay: Mark Hanna
Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette
Music: Ronald Stein
Film Editing: Edward Mann
Cast: Allison Hayes (Nancy Fowler Archer), William Hudson (Harry Archer), Yvette Vickers (Honey Parker), Roy Gordon (Dr. Isaac Cushing), George Douglas (Sheriff Dubbitt), Ken Terrell (Jess Stout), Otto Waldis (Dr. Heinrich Von Loeb), Eileene Stevens (Nurse), Mike Ross (Tony the Bartender/Space Giant), Frank Chase (Deputy Charlie).
BW-65m.

by Richard Harland Smith

Sources:
Jacques Marquette interview by Tom Weaver, Attack of the Monster Movie Makers (McFarland and Company, 1994)
The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors by Fred Olen Ray (McFarland and Company, 1991)
Nathan Juran interview by Justin Humphreys, Psychotronic Video, no. 30, 1999
Yvette Vickers interview by John O'Dowd, Psychotronic Video, no. 39, 2003
Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958) - Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman

Attack of The 50 Foot Woman (1958) - Attack of The 50 Foot Woman

Not only is Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) the quintessential drive-in movie, it was made with drive-in money. Producer Bernard Woolner and his brothers Lawrence and David had founded a chain of drive-in theaters in the American Deep South in the years immediately following the Second World War. Business for the Woolners was profitable enough for the brothers to expand into film distribution (with Roger Corman's Swamp Women in 1956) and production (beginning with Corman's Teenage Doll in 1957). The title Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was Bernard Woolner's invention, no doubt inspired by the behemoth box office of Eugne LouriŽ's The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Jack Arnold's Tarantula (1955), Ishiro Honda's Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954, released in the US in 1956) and Bert I. Gordon's The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), whose scenarist, Mark Hanna, Woolner tapped for this project. Partnered with Woolner on production of Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was Jacques Marquette. The native New Yorker was a former Technicolor staffer and Hollywood camera operator who longed to establish himself within the industry as a cinematographer. He had taken the proactive step of establishing his own production company, in a bid to finance his own films and hire himself as a director of photography. Marquette and his partners had lost their shirts on The Brain from Planet Arous (1957) and two other films due to their association with unscrupulous distributors Howco International, who had fronted the low budgets for shooting but cheated Marquette Productions of its share of the net profits. For Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Woolner secured a budget of $99,500 from distributors Allied Artists and with Marquette hired The Brain from Planet Arous director Nathan Juran to pull the picture together. The Austria-born Juran studied architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before heading to California with the sole intention of staying warm. During World War II, he was assigned to director John Ford's unit and used his skills as a draftsman to determine the dimensions of enemy structures in captured photographs for the Office of Strategic Services. Juran's drafting skills translated well to work with the art departments at 20th Century Fox and Universal, where he shared an Academy Award for art direction for Ford's How Green Was My Valley (1941). He became a director when Universal hired him to replace Joseph Pevney on The Black Castle (1952), starring Boris Karloff. Juran honed his craft on swashbucklers, westerns and crime films and subspecialized in science fiction and fantasy with Universal's The Deadly Mantis (1957) and Columbia's Twenty Million Miles to Earth (1957) and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958). Juran had agreed to direct The Brain from Planet Arous for union scale with the proviso that he be billed as Nathan Hertz, using his middle name. He insisted on the same credit for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, again fearing that the material was subpar and likely to damage his status in the studio system. Despite a budget that was nearly double that of The Brain from Planet Arous, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman had to make do with primitive special effects, resulting in an intergalactic spacecraft constructed from pegboard, a giant hand that would not pass muster in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the climactic transformation of heroine Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes) into the most unjolly of giants accomplished via an obvious double exposure that renders her ghostly when she should be larger and in charge. Happily, Juran's handling of the actors is assured and playful, while Marquette's camerawork is surprisingly expressionistic throughout and Ronald Stein's jazzy score a toe tapping success. Shot in only eight days, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was brought in under-budget at $89,000 - and luckily, with no injuries. According to co-star Yvette Vickers in an interview with Ted Okuda for Filmfax, shooting the climax was daunting. "There's that scene where all the lumber from the cafe roof falls down," she recalled, "and one of the wooden beams crushes the table I'm supposed to be hiding under. And afterwards, there's a shot where I'm lying there with all the debris around me. Well, after we filmed that scene, I looked up and noticed there was a nail on a board that was about two inches from my head. It could have gone right into my skull! But who thinks things like that are going to happen?" The film grossed $480,000 in its initial theatrical run, a profit margin shared this time with Marquette Productions. Jacques Marquette went on to a busy career as a for-hire cinematographer, shooting Roger Corman's A Bucket of Blood (1959), Burt Topper's The Strangler (1964) and Dan Curtis' Burnt Offerings (1976), in addition to episodes of such popular TV series as Sea Hunt, That Girl and Hawaii 5-0. Due to its title and ropey special effects, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is considered a schlock classic by more people than have actually watched it. Remade for cable television in 1993 (with Daryl Hannah in the title role), the film was spoofed in Fred Olen Ray's Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds (1995) and has endured as a pop culture touchstone. The original one sheet, a vivid Reynold Brown illustration of a supersized Nancy Archer straddling an elevated freeway, fetches thousands of dollars on the collector's market and was short-listed by Premiere magazine in 2008 as one of the "25 Best Movie Posters Ever". Producer: Bernard Woolner Director: Nathan Hertz Screenplay: Mark Hanna Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette Music: Ronald Stein Film Editing: Edward Mann Cast: Allison Hayes (Nancy Fowler Archer), William Hudson (Harry Archer), Yvette Vickers (Honey Parker), Roy Gordon (Dr. Isaac Cushing), George Douglas (Sheriff Dubbitt), Ken Terrell (Jess Stout), Otto Waldis (Dr. Heinrich Von Loeb), Eileene Stevens (Nurse), Mike Ross (Tony the Bartender/Space Giant), Frank Chase (Deputy Charlie). BW-65m. by Richard Harland Smith Sources:Jacques Marquette interview by Tom Weaver, Attack of the Monster Movie Makers (McFarland and Company, 1994) The New Poverty Row: Independent Filmmakers as Distributors by Fred Olen Ray (McFarland and Company, 1991) Nathan Juran interview by Justin Humphreys, Psychotronic Video, no. 30, 1999 Yvette Vickers interview by John O'Dowd, Psychotronic Video, no. 39, 2003

Cult Camp Classics 1: Sci-Fi Thrillers - A Triple Dose of Lunacy on DVD


Warner DVD may have solved the problem with releasing less-than-stellar studio movies coveted by vocal fans: Group them in smart disc sets just big enough to be both affordable and profitable. The new branded line Cult Camp Classics shows every indication of being a raging success, mainly because it gives the die-hard film fans what they want: quality transfers of fun titles with an extra or two to sweeten the pot. Seeing a title like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman on a store shelf might make one's girlfriend roll her eyes, but packaging it with The Giant Behemoth and Queen of Outer Space sounds like an instant party. This Volume 1 Sci-Fi set is the first of four interesting groupings in simultaneous release: Women in Peril, Terrorized Travelers and Historical Epics.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is remembered as a hopeless groaner, a late fifties schlock epic from the wonder men who brought you The Brain from Planet Arous and Teenage Monster. The creative Nathan Juran directs, working under the name Nathan Hertz: he apparently did that as a way of working non-Union, as well as avoiding future association with the picture. The special effects are pitiful sub- Bert I. Gordon mattes and superimpositions, with the actors frequently talking about unseen 'incredible' things happening off-screen, but Juran's direction is a model of no-budget elegance (yep!) and the actors keep the silly drama cooking no matter how ludicrous the dialogue: "Now you pulled a boner tonight and you know it." "What do you want me to do, put salt on her tail?"

'Statuesque' Allison Hayes (The Unearthly) is Nancy Archer, a spoiled heiress living in a desert palace furnished with cheap junk and ratty carpets. Contact with a bald giant wearing a tunic off the 'Medieval' rack at Western Costume turns her into the colossal babe promised by the title, seen on the sexy poster (used on Warner's cover) and memorialized in a song by The Tubes: "All she did / To get her kicks / Was step on all the men." What we see most of the time is a floppy, pasty-white giant hand prop; Allison finally appears in a queen-sized canvas bikini, crudely matted into scenes or tearing balsa-wood rafters off of buildings.

An overheated love triangle brings the picture to life. Worthless hubby Harry (William Hudson) shacks up with toothy gold digger Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers) and gets his comeuppance when wifey Nancy comes to town. A baffled sheriff and goofy deputy keep the 'clueless lawmen' scenes interesting, and the movie is short and sweet. Revival screenings usually generate enough laughter to bring the house down. Marquette, Juran and writer Mark Hanna surely engineered the film as an intentionally funny, tongue-in-cheek background diversion for make-out sessions at the drive-in.

With Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Warners breaks into the fertile fringe of the Allied Artists library, which should in theory have many attractive titles to offer, even with the erosion of independent titles back to careless rights holders and Public-Domain limbo. The B&W transfer is attractive and happily formatted enhanced widescreen, flattering Juran's clean compositions. Friendly Tom Weaver interviews actress Yvette Vickers on a feature-length commentary. Vickers has become one of the fave 50s fantasy girls for the cult monster movie set.

The Giant Behemoth is an English co-production that apparently started as something akin to a Quatermass picture, about an invisible radioactive blob or the like. When the producer demanded a garden variety monster, director Eugene Lourie apparently instructed writers Robert Abel and Alan Adler to repackage his original The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, copying whole scenes and situations. The structure and script are almost a verbatim clone, right down to the dotty paleontologist (this time amusing actor Jack MacGowran of The Fearless Vampire Killers) excited to be chasing down a living paleosaurus. Sam Fuller's "Sgt. Rock" Gene Evans joins forces with the unflappable Quatermass TV actor (among 101 other impressive roles) Andre Morell to head a low-key scientific pursuit of a radioactive monster that's killing fish and roasting unlucky fishermen with its radioactivity.

A great many indifferent effects including a mismatched, static monster hand puppet (see footnote #1), finally give way to a couple of good minutes of animation by Pete Peterson, directed by the great Willis O'Brien. Camera tilts and clever foreground props are used to make the Behemoth appropriately Giant, and expressive night lighting helps to hide the fact that the model dino isn't particularly dynamic. When the Behemoth 'projects' radioactivity, Jack Rabin superimposes optical effects used the previous year on Kronos to represent the waves of deadly energy.

The Giant Behemoth may be a fairly generic monster movie but in its time we sought it out for these stop-motion animation sequences. On TV we'd see what time the show came on and tune in about 70 minutes later to catch "the good stuff." I'm glad that it's included in this first set. The transfer is fine, even though it shows every flub and flaw in the original elements, including the many shots repeated or optically repositioned.

The commentary is by effects masters Dennis Muren and Phil Tippet, and it's not very much fun. They offer enthusiastic observations about the stop-motion monster: "Look, there are unwanted glass reflections all over this shot." One of them (Muren?) also recounts how he came into personal possession of the animation models for the film. Otherwise, their comments are annoyingly condescending and ignorant. They complain about every aspect of the film except the few animated scenes. They can't be bothered with any of the film's good actors, dissing the great Jack MacGowran as a hammy jerk. They harp on the film's measured pace and often admired documentary style as incompetent. One would never think that films like The Giant Behemoth were what inspired them to enter the movie business.

The inclusion of Queen of Outer Space makes this Sci-Fi set a full Allied Artists show. Color and CinemaScope distinguish the picture but it's strictly a Camp offering. Never really an out-and-out spoof and lacking both in wit and purpose, the picture recycles props and costumes from the rental racks and repeats the flat Formica and painted plastic look of AA's earlier World Without End. The subject matter scrapes the bottom of creativity for 50s junk Sci-Fi. A crew of American bachelors crash-lands on Venus, there to meet up with a race of Amazon lovelies.

As in the earlier Cat-Women of the Moon and Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, the girlie-girls struggle to maintain their poise while prancing about in high heels and mini-skirts; one Venusian (Lisa Davis) wears Altaira's costume from Forbidden Planet, the be-jeweled one Robby whips up for her. The script is just rubbish, with the space jocks making inane small talk about their voluptuous captors while the girls point ray guns at them and say things like "Botchino!" The Babe Factor was actually better in World Without End, with the Vargas- inspired sexy costumes.

Zsa Zsa Gabor is front and center wearing the picture's only really pretty gowns, posing and preening and sleepwalking through her role with an incongruous smile on her face. Reviewers have always made fun of Gabor's Hungarian accent but watching her stiff, untouchable manner is both amusing and stultifying. We can imagine John Huston killing himself to get a decent performance from her in Moulin Rouge.

That's all there is to Queen of Outer Space; the story isn't worth an episode of Space Patrol and some of the sets are just pathetic. Zsa Zsa is the whole show, and the enjoyment factor is entirely dependent on having friends around to help jeer and make off-color remarks. It's from a story by Ben Hecht, probably something he dashed off in two hours.   (see footnote #2).

Nevertheless, the hotly desired Queen of Outer Space is the definition of 'Camp' and a good choice to launch the Sci-Fi Cult box. The excellent transfer restores color not seen since the show was new, even if the full width of the CinemaScope screen doesn't add much to the film's luster. What does perk up the proceedings is an engaging commentary track, with Tom Weaver this time serving as host to Laurie Mitchell, the real 'Queen' in the plot. Zsa Zsa didn't have to worry about sharing the screen with a younger beauty, as Mitchell at all times wears a mask or performs under an ugly, disfigured makeup job. Ms. Mitchell (Some Like It Hot, Missile to the Moon) offers her comments and memories as Weaver goes over what is known about the making of the film. At one point he interrupts the proceedings to present his special guest with a new decorative 'Venusian' mask, to take with her to fan convention signings.

For more information about , visit Warner Video. To order Cult Camp Classics I, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

Footnote #1. I've heard that Mr. Kellison told the Cascade Studios gang of effects men that the hand puppet was built rigged with clever string-activated toggles that made the mouth open and close, etc. But the producer broke it while chasing his secretary around the office, and that's why it doesn't move. The story sounds fishy, but it's too cute not to repeat.

Also, have no fear, The Giant Behemoth is full length and includes the Thames ferry scene accidentally omitted from an old VHS release.

Footnote #2. Two notes on Queen of Outer Space: Back at UCLA, the brand-new film archive was presented with nine 35mm Color & CinemaScope prints of the title, I think by Ben Hecht's widow when she cleaned out her garage. Such a haul was considered useful to the archive because the extra copies could be traded with other archives. The only problem was that every print had faded to two tones of purplish-pink. UCLA serialized the film during student-film screenings week one quarter; even in ten-minute doses we all grew plenty sick of it, really fast.

Queen of Outer Space is also the source of one of Randy Cook's more printable jokes from back in the UCLA dorms: At one point Zsa Zsa shows her captives a pitiful boxy thing that she calls 'The Beta Disintegrator' or some-such thing. Randy offered that there should be two more similar structures, to allow Zsa could explain them as well. The second one could be some other kind of Beta machine. The third controls the other two -- it's the Master Beta machine!

Cult Camp Classics 1: Sci-Fi Thrillers - A Triple Dose of Lunacy on DVD

Warner DVD may have solved the problem with releasing less-than-stellar studio movies coveted by vocal fans: Group them in smart disc sets just big enough to be both affordable and profitable. The new branded line Cult Camp Classics shows every indication of being a raging success, mainly because it gives the die-hard film fans what they want: quality transfers of fun titles with an extra or two to sweeten the pot. Seeing a title like Attack of the 50 Foot Woman on a store shelf might make one's girlfriend roll her eyes, but packaging it with The Giant Behemoth and Queen of Outer Space sounds like an instant party. This Volume 1 Sci-Fi set is the first of four interesting groupings in simultaneous release: Women in Peril, Terrorized Travelers and Historical Epics. Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is remembered as a hopeless groaner, a late fifties schlock epic from the wonder men who brought you The Brain from Planet Arous and Teenage Monster. The creative Nathan Juran directs, working under the name Nathan Hertz: he apparently did that as a way of working non-Union, as well as avoiding future association with the picture. The special effects are pitiful sub- Bert I. Gordon mattes and superimpositions, with the actors frequently talking about unseen 'incredible' things happening off-screen, but Juran's direction is a model of no-budget elegance (yep!) and the actors keep the silly drama cooking no matter how ludicrous the dialogue: "Now you pulled a boner tonight and you know it." "What do you want me to do, put salt on her tail?" 'Statuesque' Allison Hayes (The Unearthly) is Nancy Archer, a spoiled heiress living in a desert palace furnished with cheap junk and ratty carpets. Contact with a bald giant wearing a tunic off the 'Medieval' rack at Western Costume turns her into the colossal babe promised by the title, seen on the sexy poster (used on Warner's cover) and memorialized in a song by The Tubes: "All she did / To get her kicks / Was step on all the men." What we see most of the time is a floppy, pasty-white giant hand prop; Allison finally appears in a queen-sized canvas bikini, crudely matted into scenes or tearing balsa-wood rafters off of buildings. An overheated love triangle brings the picture to life. Worthless hubby Harry (William Hudson) shacks up with toothy gold digger Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers) and gets his comeuppance when wifey Nancy comes to town. A baffled sheriff and goofy deputy keep the 'clueless lawmen' scenes interesting, and the movie is short and sweet. Revival screenings usually generate enough laughter to bring the house down. Marquette, Juran and writer Mark Hanna surely engineered the film as an intentionally funny, tongue-in-cheek background diversion for make-out sessions at the drive-in. With Attack of the 50 Foot Woman Warners breaks into the fertile fringe of the Allied Artists library, which should in theory have many attractive titles to offer, even with the erosion of independent titles back to careless rights holders and Public-Domain limbo. The B&W transfer is attractive and happily formatted enhanced widescreen, flattering Juran's clean compositions. Friendly Tom Weaver interviews actress Yvette Vickers on a feature-length commentary. Vickers has become one of the fave 50s fantasy girls for the cult monster movie set. The Giant Behemoth is an English co-production that apparently started as something akin to a Quatermass picture, about an invisible radioactive blob or the like. When the producer demanded a garden variety monster, director Eugene Lourie apparently instructed writers Robert Abel and Alan Adler to repackage his original The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, copying whole scenes and situations. The structure and script are almost a verbatim clone, right down to the dotty paleontologist (this time amusing actor Jack MacGowran of The Fearless Vampire Killers) excited to be chasing down a living paleosaurus. Sam Fuller's "Sgt. Rock" Gene Evans joins forces with the unflappable Quatermass TV actor (among 101 other impressive roles) Andre Morell to head a low-key scientific pursuit of a radioactive monster that's killing fish and roasting unlucky fishermen with its radioactivity. A great many indifferent effects including a mismatched, static monster hand puppet (see footnote #1), finally give way to a couple of good minutes of animation by Pete Peterson, directed by the great Willis O'Brien. Camera tilts and clever foreground props are used to make the Behemoth appropriately Giant, and expressive night lighting helps to hide the fact that the model dino isn't particularly dynamic. When the Behemoth 'projects' radioactivity, Jack Rabin superimposes optical effects used the previous year on Kronos to represent the waves of deadly energy. The Giant Behemoth may be a fairly generic monster movie but in its time we sought it out for these stop-motion animation sequences. On TV we'd see what time the show came on and tune in about 70 minutes later to catch "the good stuff." I'm glad that it's included in this first set. The transfer is fine, even though it shows every flub and flaw in the original elements, including the many shots repeated or optically repositioned. The commentary is by effects masters Dennis Muren and Phil Tippet, and it's not very much fun. They offer enthusiastic observations about the stop-motion monster: "Look, there are unwanted glass reflections all over this shot." One of them (Muren?) also recounts how he came into personal possession of the animation models for the film. Otherwise, their comments are annoyingly condescending and ignorant. They complain about every aspect of the film except the few animated scenes. They can't be bothered with any of the film's good actors, dissing the great Jack MacGowran as a hammy jerk. They harp on the film's measured pace and often admired documentary style as incompetent. One would never think that films like The Giant Behemoth were what inspired them to enter the movie business. The inclusion of Queen of Outer Space makes this Sci-Fi set a full Allied Artists show. Color and CinemaScope distinguish the picture but it's strictly a Camp offering. Never really an out-and-out spoof and lacking both in wit and purpose, the picture recycles props and costumes from the rental racks and repeats the flat Formica and painted plastic look of AA's earlier World Without End. The subject matter scrapes the bottom of creativity for 50s junk Sci-Fi. A crew of American bachelors crash-lands on Venus, there to meet up with a race of Amazon lovelies. As in the earlier Cat-Women of the Moon and Abbott and Costello Go To Mars, the girlie-girls struggle to maintain their poise while prancing about in high heels and mini-skirts; one Venusian (Lisa Davis) wears Altaira's costume from Forbidden Planet, the be-jeweled one Robby whips up for her. The script is just rubbish, with the space jocks making inane small talk about their voluptuous captors while the girls point ray guns at them and say things like "Botchino!" The Babe Factor was actually better in World Without End, with the Vargas- inspired sexy costumes. Zsa Zsa Gabor is front and center wearing the picture's only really pretty gowns, posing and preening and sleepwalking through her role with an incongruous smile on her face. Reviewers have always made fun of Gabor's Hungarian accent but watching her stiff, untouchable manner is both amusing and stultifying. We can imagine John Huston killing himself to get a decent performance from her in Moulin Rouge. That's all there is to Queen of Outer Space; the story isn't worth an episode of Space Patrol and some of the sets are just pathetic. Zsa Zsa is the whole show, and the enjoyment factor is entirely dependent on having friends around to help jeer and make off-color remarks. It's from a story by Ben Hecht, probably something he dashed off in two hours.   (see footnote #2). Nevertheless, the hotly desired Queen of Outer Space is the definition of 'Camp' and a good choice to launch the Sci-Fi Cult box. The excellent transfer restores color not seen since the show was new, even if the full width of the CinemaScope screen doesn't add much to the film's luster. What does perk up the proceedings is an engaging commentary track, with Tom Weaver this time serving as host to Laurie Mitchell, the real 'Queen' in the plot. Zsa Zsa didn't have to worry about sharing the screen with a younger beauty, as Mitchell at all times wears a mask or performs under an ugly, disfigured makeup job. Ms. Mitchell (Some Like It Hot, Missile to the Moon) offers her comments and memories as Weaver goes over what is known about the making of the film. At one point he interrupts the proceedings to present his special guest with a new decorative 'Venusian' mask, to take with her to fan convention signings. For more information about , visit Warner Video. To order Cult Camp Classics I, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson Footnote #1. I've heard that Mr. Kellison told the Cascade Studios gang of effects men that the hand puppet was built rigged with clever string-activated toggles that made the mouth open and close, etc. But the producer broke it while chasing his secretary around the office, and that's why it doesn't move. The story sounds fishy, but it's too cute not to repeat. Also, have no fear, The Giant Behemoth is full length and includes the Thames ferry scene accidentally omitted from an old VHS release. Footnote #2. Two notes on Queen of Outer Space: Back at UCLA, the brand-new film archive was presented with nine 35mm Color & CinemaScope prints of the title, I think by Ben Hecht's widow when she cleaned out her garage. Such a haul was considered useful to the archive because the extra copies could be traded with other archives. The only problem was that every print had faded to two tones of purplish-pink. UCLA serialized the film during student-film screenings week one quarter; even in ten-minute doses we all grew plenty sick of it, really fast.Queen of Outer Space is also the source of one of Randy Cook's more printable jokes from back in the UCLA dorms: At one point Zsa Zsa shows her captives a pitiful boxy thing that she calls 'The Beta Disintegrator' or some-such thing. Randy offered that there should be two more similar structures, to allow Zsa could explain them as well. The second one could be some other kind of Beta machine. The third controls the other two -- it's the Master Beta machine!

Quotes

I know where my husband is! He's with that woman!
- Nancy Archer
You know everyone's seeing satellites these days.
- Harry Archer
You know, you're going to flip your lid just one time too many with me, Nancy.
- Harry Archer
Now you pulled a boner tonight and you know it.
- Harry Archer

Trivia

Working title: "The Astounding Giant Woman".

This film was made right after the success of Sputnik. The alien spacecraft is called a "satellite" because the writer thought that meant any spherical shaped spacecraft.

Several years later, the Woolner Brothers planned to do a bigger budget sequel to be shot in Cinemascope and color. A final script was written and printed. The film never went into production.

Notes

Working titles of this film were The Astounding Giant Woman and Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman. The film became a cult classic and is frequently shown in film study courses. Modern critics often compare the film with Universal-International's 1957 production, The Incredible Shrinking Man (see below). In September 1993, a remake of The Fifty Foot Woman was made for television, starring Daryl Hannah and broadcast on the HBO cable channel.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States June 2009

Released in United States March 1975

Released in United States Spring May 1958

Shown at CineVegas Film Festival (Under the Neon) June 10-15, 2009.

Remade for HBO with the same title in 1993, starring Daryl Hannah in the title role.

Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition March 13-26, 1975.)

Released in United States Spring May 1958

Released in United States June 2009 (Shown at CineVegas Film Festival (Under the Neon) June 10-15, 2009.)