Friday, January 06, 2017


Susan (Gloria Talbott) defies local officials and hires a small group of men to fly out over a Mexican desert to look for Bruce, her missing fiancĂ©. With her are Marty (Lon Chaney Jr.), a prospector who is sure there's uranium to be had in the mountains; Bruce’s buddy Russ (James Craig); and Lee (Tom Drake), a broken-down alcoholic pilot. As they near the site where Bruce was last known to have been, they run into dangerous downdrafts, and fisticuffs break out among the men. After they land, Marty discovers uranium and wants to fly back right away to make a claim, so the rest of the group worry that he may try to take the plane himself. Soon they come upon freakish giant animals including lizards, a spider, a rat, and a bird. Russ discovers that radioactivity has caused the mutations. Later, Susan becomes hysterical when she and Russ are trapped in a cave by a 30-foot tall man with a horribly disfigured face—and, as the title hints, only one eye. Yes, it's Bruce, also mutated due to radioactivity.

I think this must have made quite an impact on me when I first saw it at the tender age of 10, as the awful Cyclops face is burned into my consciousness. Or maybe it's because the cyclops face was featured on the cover of an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland, just about my favorite magazine of all time. At any rate, my recent second viewing was not nearly so traumatic, though for a low-budget monster movie from Burt I. Gordon, this is fairly effective. As a kid, Lon Chaney Jr. would have been the only actor in the film I was familiar with. Now, it's an added bonus to see James Craig (the 40s B-equivalent of Clark Gable) and an older Tom Drake (the "Boy Next Door" from MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS) in the cast. Apparently, famous voice-over actor Paul Frees did uncredited work as the snarling grunts of the monster. There is a surprisingly graphic (for the time) shot near the end of the beast getting a huge stick of wood plunged in his eye. This is not a great film, but it's difficult to be entirely objective about a movie that has stayed with me for almost fifty years. [TCM]

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