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The Amazing Colossal Man is a 1957 black-and-white science fiction film, directed by Bert I. Gordon and starring Glenn Langan. The film revolves around a 60 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 The Cat Girl, the film was followed by a sequel, War of the Colossal Beast, which appeared in 1958. The film and its sequel appeared on Mystery Science Theater 3000. During the 1960s the title was syndicated to television by American International Television.

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 BloodIt 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 AntsEarth 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.

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.

Plot Edit

Glen Langan plays Lt. Col. Glenn Manning, an officer in the U.S. Army,witnessesa plane crashes in the test area. Colonel Glen Manningfearing that someone may still be alive runs to the plane, but before he getsto the pilot who is inadvertently exposed to a plutonium bomb blast at CampDesert Rock. suffers serious burns to over 90% of his body [and hair loss]following an inadvertent exposure to plutonium radiation from a bomb blast. He isthen brought to the base hospital, but is not expected to survive the night. .The next morning, Manning not only is still alive, but the burned tissue iscompletely healed. When his fiancée Carol Forrest  (played by Cathy Downs – The Phantom From 10,000 LeaguesThe She-Creaturearrives to visit she findsout that he as been moved as well as the physicians that have been working onhim, Dr. Paul Coulter and Major Eric Lindstrom, M.D. Mannin miraculously survives the explosion and his burns completely heal, Throughsome checking on her own, Carol soon finds out where they are keeping Glen andis horrified to find out that the radiation has affected his cells and causedhim to grow uncontrollably . The radiation causes him to abnormally grow into a 60-foot-tallgiant.

Although healed and now taller than a mountain, Manning is anything but 'stable'. "His mind will go first" claims Dr. Linstrom (William Hudson), the film's resident doctor of exposition. "And then his heart will explode!" Then again, Dr. Hudson also claims that the heart is a "single cell", so clearly his credentials are about as legitimate as a back alley bum-fight. Nevertheless, despite knowing less about the human body than an actual doctor should, Linstrom's words prove prophetic, and the gigantic Manning proceeds to break free from his confines and then go storming off into the Nevada desert wearing nothing except for a diaper and an odd scowl that is more likely than not prompted by the lack of synapses in his brain.

At this size, his heart is unable to supply sufficient blood to hisbrain and he gradually goes insane.Army doctors attempt to halt and reverse his growth with aformula, but after getting injected with the cure, he grabs the  needle and spears one of the doctors with it,killing him on the spot. The doctors search find a cure, but before they can administerit to him, he goes mad, escapes and begins terrorizing Las Vegas.  Manning  free from confinement,"kidnaps" his girlfriend, Carol Forrest (played by Cathy Downs), andwreaks havoc in LasVegas before being cornered by the Army at the Boulder Dam.  

 

'The Amazing Colossal Man' (1957): A ReviewEdit

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Time and time and time again the evil machinations and schemes of the dreaded Mole Peoplehave been discussed and debated here on the Examiner website, and yet people still seem to flock to the movie theatres or pay their hard-earned money for DVDs that go right into the pockets of those subterranean ne'er-do-wells whose inability to view beloved classic films fills them with such unutterable hatred that they purposefully assault our eyes and senses with their incomprehensible, incoherent, and terrible movies out of deep-seething envy and revenge.

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RATING FOR THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MANEdit

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Their servants are numerous and multiform, and have existed since time immemorial and continue to serve their baneful masters and their dreaded plans by polluting the cinemas with their heinous productions and demented films. One of the Mole People's most loyal servants is undoubtedly Bert I. Gordon, known affectionately as Mr. BIG by his blind and blasphemous masters who fund and help produce his terrible movies, including the 1957 science-fiction abomination, 'The Amazing Colossal Man'.

The film ostensibly stars Glenn Langan as Lt. Col. Glenn Manning, a serviceman who is exposed to intense waves of radiation following a nuclear blast and naturally dies as a result of radiation exposure. Nah, just kidding. That would make absolute sense, which is evidently something that Gordon has no desire to make. Instead of dying, or at the very least being incurably injured, Lt. Col. Manning wakes up the day after miraculously healed and without wound as a result of his radiation bath, with only two minor consequences. One, he no longer has any hair. And two: he is eventually grows to be over fifty feet tall.

Although healed and now taller than a mountain, Manning is anything but 'stable'. "His mind will go first" claims Dr. Linstrom (William Hudson), the film's resident doctor of exposition. "And then his heart will explode!" Then again, Dr. Hudson also claims that the heart is a "single cell", so clearly his credentials are about as legitimate as a back alley bum-fight. Nevertheless, despite knowing less about the human body than an actual doctor should, Linstrom's words prove prophetic, and the gigantic Manning proceeds to break free from his confines and then go storming off into the Nevada desert wearing nothing except for a diaper and an odd scowl that is more likely than not prompted by the lack of synapses in his brain.

Woe be unto the poor soul who rents or watches this Mole People produced drek, for the seventy-odd minutes of your life it steals can never be regained or replaced. The entire cast's acting abilities range anywhere between "mediocre" and "what's a camera?", and provide entertainment only in the sense that viewers might have some fun making a game out of trying to guess which emotion the actor is attempting to convey versus the actual emotion being displayed on film.

Most of Bert I. Gordon’s output is not particularly good and The Amazing Colossal Man is probably the best of his films from the 1950s. His single best film is the mind-boggling The Mad Bomber (1973). That said, even a better-than-average Bert I. Gordon film still makes for only a barely passable B movie. Gordon’s direction is static. The special effects are not that special – Gordon does make economic use of A-bomb test footage and some of the scenes with the giant-size Glenn Langan are okay but most of the effects shots have a profusion of matte lines around them. The script is routine – Gordon co-writes with Mark Hanna who also wrote Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) the following year, one of the worst B movies of the 1950s (and another effort trying to copy The Incredible Shrinking Man). There are several moment of silliness such as Glenn Langan’s heart failing to grow at the same rate his body does for no clearly defined reason.

However, The Amazing Colossal Man has moments where it transcends being a typical Bert I. Gordon film. There are wonderful little throwaway images like where Glenn Langan picks up a tiny Bible to read. Or his rampage through Las Vegas, which has been chosen with great appropriateness as a location – we watch him picking up crowns off buildings and finding shoes that are his size, as though to say that Las Vegas is a fantasy city, one place where a giant might seem perfectly at home. On the other hand, Gordon fails to give any pathos to the scenes of Glenn Langan being shot down – he should have but The Amazing Colossal Man is ultimately too much of a B movie. Glenn Langan gives an okay performance of unstable sanity, although Cathy Downs is terribly wooden as his wife.


Bert I. Gordon later made a sequel War of the Colossal Beast (1958) where Dean Parkin took over the title role from Glenn Langan. Homages to The Amazing Colossal Man can be found in Honey I Blew Up the Kid (1992) and Monsters vs Aliens(2009).

The "special" effects featured in Gordon's film are indeed "special", though probably not in the sense that most people typically use that word. Langan's fifty foot man is constantly shifting between solid and transparent states due to the poor matting effects being used, thus rendering him the Amazing Colossal Ghost instead of the Amazing Colossal Man (though admittedly the former sounds like a much better premise and movie idea than the latter), while Gordon's constant use of stock-footage for the film's plane sequences and scenes involving the armed forces helps to destroy all of the suspension of disbelief needed to actually believe in what is occurring before the viewer.

There is one amazing spot of brightness in Gordon's otherwise dull and grimy film however -- a scene of such insanity and unintended humor that it almost redeems the film in its entirety. Soon after Manning goes on his requisite angry-monster rampage, Army scientist Maj. Eric Coulter, MD (played by Larry "I don't deserve such a cool last name" Thor) develops what he believes to be antidote to Manning's bizarre condition, and that with a simple injection, they should be able to bring Manning back down to normal human size.

How does one inject a chemical into a fifty-foot colossus, you might ask? Simple. With a colossal hypodermic needle, complete with dosage markers, a giant plunger and finger rings -- for whose fingers they were made for god only knows because the Army makes it pretty clear that it doesn't expect Manning to inject himself with the antidote, having lost his mind sometime after his escape, but nevertheless they're there and only make the whole procedure look even more ridiculous than it already is. But wait, it gets even better than that.

Dr. Coulter, with the help of Dr. Linstrom, approach a rather placid and stoic Manning -- evidently tired from his previous rampaging and what not -- and then jam the needle into Manning's big-toe, upon which Manning, in pain and obviously jealous of fellow actor Larry Thor's cool last name, takes the giant needle out of his foot and then spears it through Coulter, creating one of the most bizarrely hilarious deaths ever to be captured on film.

Finally, after about seventy odd minutes of watching a poorly matted giant walking around Las Vegas while "crowds" of people ("crowd" being equal to about ten or fifteen people because that's all the extras Gordon was able to round up), Manning then kidnaps the film's love interest (Cathy Downs), wanders off with her, and then places her safely aside just before he is shot to death by the United States Army and falls dead into the Colorado River. Some cinema-lovers might think that this ending is absurdly similar to the ending in 'King Kong' but their wrong, because 'King Kong' was at least decent whereas this film is anything but decent. After releasing Carol Manning  is shot and appears to fall tohis death in the Colorado River.

Cast Edit

Glenn Langan || Lt. Col. Glenn Manning|-| Cathy Downs || Carol Forrest|-| William Hudson || Dr. Paul Linstrom|-| Larry Thor || Maj. Eric Coulter, MD|-| James Seay || Col. Hallock|-| Frank Jenks || Truck Driver|-| Russ Bender || Richard Kingman|-| Hank Patterson || Henry|-| Jimmy Cross || Sergeant at reception desk|-| June Jocelyn || Nurse Wilson|-| Stanley Lachman || Lt. Cline|-| Harry Raybould || MP at Main Gate|-| Jean Moorhead || Woman in Bathtub|-| Scott Peters || Sgt. Lee Carter|-| Myron Cook || Capt. Thomas|-| Michael Harris || Police Lt. Keller|-| Bill Cassady || Lt. Peterson|-| Dick Nelson || Sgt. Hansen|-| Edmund Cobb || Dr. McDermott|-| Paul Hahn || Attendant|-| Diana Darrin || Hospital Receptionist|-| Lyn Osborn || Sgt. Taylor|-| Jack Kosslyn || Lieutenant in briefing room|-| William Hughes || Bombsite Control Officer|-| Keith Hetherington ||Newscaster|-| John Daheim || Soldier (uncredited)|-| Judd Holdren || Robert Allen (uncredited)|-| Harold Miller || Official (uncredited)|} 

ProductionEdit

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 was hired to adapt the novel and he turned it into a comedy. Then Corman dropped out and Bert I. Gordon 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 stepped in instead.[1]

Influence on popular cultureEdit

Lt. Col. Glenn Manning is almost the same as the name of the Deathlok cyborg's true idenity of Colonel Luthor Manning,created by Rich Buckler,for Marvel Comics.The Deathlok cyborg,even has half hid disfigured,like Glenn Manning  has in the sequile. The origin of the incredible Hulk, is almost similar to Lt. Col. Glenn Manning's story.  

References in popular culture Edit

The film was parodied on an episode of Robot Chicken when a large bald giant, wearing a sarong as a diaper, is struck in the crotch with a wrecking ball as he terrorizes a city, as part of the "Ode To The Nut Shot" sketch. ==Home media==

  • RCA Columbia Home Video released the film on VHS on June 21, 1994. *The Mst3k version was released on VHS by Rhino Home Video on April 30, 1996. 

NotesEdit

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named AIP
 ==Other reading== 
  • Wingrove, David. Science Fiction Film Source Book (Longman Group Limited, 1985) 

See alsoEdit

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