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AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, THE(director/writer: Bert I. Gordon; screenwriter: Mark Hanna; cinematographer: Joseph Biroc; editor: Ronald Sinclair; cast: Glenn Langan (Colonel Manning),William Hudson (Dr. Paul Lindstrom), Cathy Downs (Carol Forrest), James Seay (Col. Hallock), Larry Thor (Maj. Eric Coulter, M.D.); Runtime: 80; AIP/Malibu; 1957)

“What the film failed to do, was be anything but cynical.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A 1950s sci-fi schlock film cueing in on the cold war paranoia regarding nuclear bombs and turning the stalwart Colonel Manning (Glenn Langan) into a later day King Kong, who attacks Las Vegas. This B movie, made in B/W, is a cheapie from American-International Pictures, and is good for a few belly laughs and a few shakes of the head.

At the site of the first plutonium bomb explosion in Nevada Colonel Manning, as part of security forces, observes a manned-plane that goes down just as it is about to hit zero hour. Manning disobeys orders and rushes out from his secure shelter to rescue the downed pilot, but he’s too late the blast occurs exposing him to its radiation and all he can do is shield his eyes; but, his skin is peeled off and his vital fluids are drained.

By some miracle Manning is still alive and is being attended to in the hospital when his anxious fiancée, Carol Forrest (Cathy Downs), visits him. Dr. Paul Lindstrom (Hudson) is treating him and notices something unusual, he has grown back all new skin and he can’t stop growing. At the rate he is growing, 8-to-10 feet a day, he will die unless the scientists can come up with a way for them to stop the cells from growing.

Manning has flashbacks of the Korean War and the terrible foxhole incident, where his sergeant got killed and he had to kill a few Koreans to escape. He also promised to marry Carol after the war, which he planned to do right after the nuclear test was finished.

Meanwhile, Manning has grown gigantic and realizes that he can’t be helped, though Carol keeps his spirits up by telling him the doctors are working on a way to stop his growth. When Manning tries to read the Bible it has shrunk so much, that the print is too small for him to read. It is also a trip to watch this bald headed giant eat so much and to see how he simply dwarfs all those who visit him.

Manning is disillusioned because he has become a freak show, someone to be advertised on a circus tour — with a barker calling out, come see “The Amazing Colossal Man!” His mind is starting to go and the doctors say if they can’t come up with a remedy pronto his heart, which is not growing at the same pace as his body, will not be able to support him anymore.

The doctors think they have the solution and prepare a giant hypodermic needle with some kind of sulfur solution, that will go into Manning’s bone marrow and stop the cells from reproducing. But Manning has become deranged telling Carol to leave him alone, and he escapes, heading for Las Vegas. The Army, under the supervision of Colonel Hallock (Seay), spot the now 60 feet tall and weighs 18,000 pounds giant and have orders to shoot-to-kill.

In Las Vegas, the giant peeks in on a lady taking a bath on the top floor of her hotel and tears off the icons on top of the Silver Slipper gambling casino.

Warning: spoiler to follow in next paragraph.

The best sequence is of Doctors Coulter and Lindstrom carrying the huge hypodermic needle towards him, as Manning heads away from Las Vegas and goes toward Boulder Dam. They ram the needle into Manning, but he pulls it out and throws it like a spear into Coulter’s heart and then he does to Carol what King Kong did to Fay Wray on the Empire State Building; he puts Carol, whom he can barely recognize, into his paw. When Manning is talked into putting her down by Lindstrom, the Army sharpshooters put him out of his misery and he falls into Boulder Dam.

The special effects were fine, the quasi-documentary atmosphere it presented helped give it the look of a cold war era film; but, nevertheless, the movie was most hilarious when it tried to be serious. What the film failed to do, was be anything but cynical. It had no particular political objectives; it did not follow through about how the civilian population is effected in regards to Army secrecy in such nuclear tests; nor, did it explore what significance, if any, there was in having the giant attack America’s new city of greed–Las Vegas.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”