The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

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The Amazing Colossal Man is a 1957 science fiction horror film, directed by Bert I. Gordon, produced by Gordon, Samuel Z. Arkoff, James H. Nicholson and starring Glenn Langan, Cathy Downs, William Hudson and Larry Thor.

The film revolves around a sixty foot mutant man produced as the result of an atomic accident. Distributed by American International Pictures (AIP) at the top of a program double-bill with British horror film Cat Girl, the film was followed by a sequel, War of the Colossal Beast, which appeared in 1958. During the 1960’s the title was syndicated to TV by American International Television.

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Lt. Col. Glenn Manning (Glenn Langan from Dragonwyck) is an officer in the U.S. Army who suffers serious burns to over 90% of his body (and hair loss) following an inadvertent exposure to plutonium radiation from a bomb blast. He miraculously survives the explosion and his burns completely heal, but the radiation causes him to abnormally grow into a 60-foot-tall giant. At this size, his heart is unable to supply sufficient blood to his brain and he gradually goes insane.

Army doctors attempt to halt and reverse his growth with a formula, but after getting injected with the cure, he grabs the needle and spears one of the doctors with it, killing him on the spot. He then escapes from confinement, “kidnaps” his girlfriend, Carol Forrest (played by Cathy Downs – The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues, The She-Creature), and wreaks havoc in Las Vegas before being cornered by the Army at the Boulder Dam. With the dam as his equivalent of King Kong’s Empire State Building, the girl is released but what fate does the big chap face?

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Jim Nicholson of American International Pictures had the rights to a 1920s novel, The Nth Man about a man who was ten miles high. Nicholson thought it could be adapted to cash in on the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man (released six months earlier in 1957) and originally announced Roger Corman as director. Charles B. Griffith (Bucket of Blood, It Conquered the World) was hired to adapt the novel and he turned it into a comedy. Then Corman dropped out and Bert I. Gordon (Empire of the Ants, Earth Vs The Spider) was hired. Gordon worked on the script with Griffith but the collaboration only last a day before Griffith quit. Griffith’s regular writing partner Mark Hanna (Not of this Earth) stepped in instead.

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One of an almost endless stream of nuclear-related shrinking/growing/mutating movies affecting Man and beast alike in the post war paranoia of America. The creakiness of the special effects is a tad distracting (the humongous gent is merely projected behind the other actors) and indeed, only Langan gives anything like an acceptable performance, though Downs looks the part at least. At only 80 minutes long, it survives best as a document of the mind-set of the age than a good creature feature though it’s perfect Sunday afternoon viewing.

Daz Lawrence, Horrorpedia

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Categories: 1950s, adaptation of a novel, body horror, creature feature, ecological horror, Horrorpedia review, monster movie, mutant

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4 replies

  1. A truly great B from Mr. BIG himself, and a rare American made AIP film that I actually enjoyed from start to finish. The giant syringe was made by Paul Blaisdell and reportedly could really shoot water about 50 feet or more.

    Like

  2. I remember being scared to death at age 6 when I saw the War of the Colossal Beast. A one-eyed man, 60-feet tall, growling, and with a temper! I peaked through my fingers covering my face to see the horror.
    For its time, it worked well. I’m sure this film gave me nightmares. And all the stereotypes were present :
    women screaming (the weaker sex), everything different must be destroyed, something alien is always bent on destroying us.

    Like

  3. Jeffrey Witt:
    I liked theses Burt I. Gordon films
    they are: The Amazing Colssel Man (1958) Sequil was War of trhe Colossel Beast,
    Earth Vs. The Spider,and etc. For the time they were great!

    Like

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