The Cyclops (1957)

Genres - Horror, Science Fiction  |   Release Date - Jul 28, 1957 (USA)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

The Cyclops is the simplest of all of Bert I. Gordon's films, and he would use it as the model for many movies to follow, right up through Empire of the Ants in 1977. Indeed, many of the same kinds of giant animal shots would turn up in the movies Earth Vs. The Spider, Village of the Giants, and Food of the Gods, the latter two in color (which was always less convincing). This film is very compact -- so much so that when The Cyclops was sold to television, in order to make it suitable for a 90-minute time-slot, the distributors put about five minutes of monster footage from the middle of the film ahead of the credits as a prologue/teaser -- and it is interesting to watch on a number of levels, in terms of several of the careers involved. Gordon would mimic the same approach to production in more elaborate dramatic fashion and with a bigger budget in The Amazing Colossal Man later the same year, essentially getting a familiar lead actor (in this case, he had three of them in James Craig, Lon Chaney Jr., and Tom Drake) for some dramatic credibility and putting him in a story with a sci-fi/horror twist. (When he couldn't get a name lead, he would fall back on what he did here for the monster -- Duncan Parkin, the grip and stunt man who plays the title creature in The Cyclops, was pressed into service in a nearly identical role when Glenn Langan refused to do the Colossal Man sequel, War of the Colossal Beast), billed there as Dean Parkin.) This film is also uniquely interesting in a depressing sort of way, showing onetime stars and leading men like Chaney, Craig -- who was once touted as the next Clark Gable -- and Drake (who'd come a long way down from Meet Me in St. Louis, The Green Years, or Words and Music) all trying to eke out livings in their profession in a movie such as this. Gloria Talbott looks good and does her best with a role that's written with an interesting degree of depth and neuroses, despite the short script -- Winter is so convinced that she will find her fiance, that she can't accept what we all know, that he is the Cyclops, the result of two years of living in the irradiated valley.