Monday, October 03, 2011


Alison Hayes is rich, has a devoted butler, owns the world's most fabulous diamond (the Star of India), and for some reason is married to a passive, conniving lout and lives in a small house on the outskirts of a nowhere little town out West. Her husband (William Hudson) is keeping a floozy (Yvette Vickers) at the hotel in town, and doesn’t care who knows. Hayes has developed a drinking problem, or more to the point, re-developed it after a spell in a sanitarium, thanks to Hudson's fooling around. One night, when sightings of a giant fireball in the sky are being reported around the world, Hayes is out driving in the desert and sees a giant glowing sphere land on the road, and a space giant comes out of it and tries to snatch her diamond from around her neck. She heads to town in hysterics and no one believes her. Vickers decides this might be a good time for Hudson to do a little gaslighting, drive Hayes crazy, get her committed, and thereby get his hands on her fortune. But when the space giant returns, he snatches Hayes along with her diamond, and when she is returned, she begins growing to become the 50-foot woman of the title, and is out for revenge against Hudson and Vickers.

Despite this film's reputation as a B-classic, it's pretty bad; it could almost pass for an Ed Wood production except the acting is fairly solid. Critics love to claim this as a feminist take on the traditional man-into-monster movie, and there is potential for a fruitful reading that way, but the weak screenplay and low budget don't allow for the fleshing out of any characters or subplots. This is the kind of movie in which not much really happens on screen; most events occur off-screen (or in the past) and we're told about them in long stultifying dialogue scenes. Hayes and Vickers do the best they can with what little they're given, and though it's Hayes you’ll remember as she strides through town in her toga, ready to wreck havoc, Vickers is the more interesting character—and the better actress. Hudson (pictured with Hayes) works up some good, slimy anti-charm, though as with the lead females, he'd be more fun if he had more to work with. Frank Chase makes his role as the obnoxious comic-relief sidekick deputy bearable. This all could have still worked nicely if the special effects had been good, but they are terrible. The giants are mostly transparent double-exposures, and despite the cool poster picture of Hayes ripping cars off of a freeway, her rampage scene looks like it was shot by high-school kids in someone's back yard. Had Hayes thrown herself completely into the role, this might have been a high camp classic, but it’s not even that good/bad. [DVD]

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