Released by American International Pictures in a double bill with Cat Girl (not what you’re probably thinking), this Bert I. Gordon “cheese classic” also spawned a sequel, War Of The Colossal Beast, and it embodied – alongside The Incredible Shrinking Man – the 50s B-movie fascination for size alteration, leading to another popular and often parodied drive-in feature, Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman. Mr. B.I.G. himself would go back to this motif not only with the The Cyclops (previously released the same year), Attack Of The Puppet People and the aforementioned sequel to the movie , but even well into the 60s with Village Of The Giants, VERY loosely based off H.G. Wells’ Food Of The Gods, before he actually did a more…let’s say “proper” adaptation of the story. And then followed it with a sequel that had even less to do with the H.G. Wells classic book.
Nothing new, since this is actually an uncredited adaptation of the short sci-fi novel The Nth Man by Homer Eon Flint, a fairly unknown sci-fi author of the early 20th centhury.
Like many B-movies from the 50s, it’s the radioactivity (discovered by Madame Curiè) that’s in the air for you and me. This time it’s Lt. Colonnel Glenn Manning (played by Glenn Langan), who gets hit by a plutonium bomb after rescuing a pilot that just crash-landed near the testing site.
Of course, the bomb doesn’t kill him. He gets huge third grade degree burns all over his body, but as time passes, he starts to miraculously heal from the burns, and then to gradually grow in size, while he starts to go insane from the situation, alienated and bitter even with his fianceè coming every day to comfort him. Eventually he loses it, escapes and goes on a rampage in Las Vegas, before “kidnapping” his wife and then being shot by the army and falling into the Colorado River.
But as giant monster movies tradition dictates, there’s no watery grave that can hold them coming back for at least one more sequel, in this case the following year with the already mentioned War Of The Colossal Beast.
While there’s plenty to make fun of, thanks to it being a cheap B-Movie production by Bert I. Gordon, the usual 50’s bullshit, and the MST3K episodes of both this one and the sequel are funny, this one is worth approaching in earnest, because it’s actually a decent-to-good B-Movie from the era, and it actually perfectly watchable still today, even if you kinda left to wish it had a bigger budget and a better director, to be brutally honest. And boy some effects are plain laughable today.
Putting that aside, the plot is actually intriguing enough, the narration is decent and you don’t find yourself fast-forwarding to the scenes of the titular “Colossal man”, thanks to likeable characters and Glenn himself it’s a tragic character that didn’t want any of that, loathes his condition and pays the unexpected price of staying true to his ideals and his desire not to let another man die because of him or his in-action. He’s pitiful, even if a bit too dickish to his wife-to-be that doesn’t stop his gigantification from losing hope in a cure, you feel bad for him, and the acting is overall decent.
Even the scientific explanations about why he grows and how to potentially stop are interesting enough so you will concede to them even if you they’re about as scientifically accurate as the script wants/cares for them to be, they’re not so stupid to flat out make you wanna angrily question it.
Heck, aside from some just laughable and painfully obvious moment (like Glenn immediatly falling from a bridge to the Colorado river below as a transparent video effect) that are typical Bert I. Gordon-isms, the effects actually are fairly convincing for the time, not a great budget (being an AIP release and a B.I.G. Joint) but used fairly well, not too much to complain, all things considered.
It’s still cheesy at time, but it’s a solid B-movie that defines the Atomic Age of cinema, a fairly intriguing premise, and for a Bert I. Gordon affair, it’s better than you might expect, so in case you’re a fan or love the 50s style of B-movies but never went about watching this one, i suggest doing so, it’s a cult classic for a reason and it’s not a long movie to sit through anyway.