Along with “invasion of the body snatchers”(1956) “forbidden planet”(1956) and “the fly” (1958),the best movie sci-fi offered in the fifties.
Richard Matheson’s remarkable novel was adapted by himself,thus the movie is an accurate rendition.Differences are kept to the minimum,and are probably due to censorship:one character,the pedophile,who wants to take the hero to his home has been removed and the relationship with Clarice remains platonic.Besides,Matheson focuses here on the second part of his novel,which takes place in the basement.
The special effects are absolutely stunning for the time ,but what’s the most extraordinary is that they take a back seat to the hero’s frames of mind:the voice-over is never redundant and Matheson’s brilliant lines,a thousand miles above the B-movie level,perfectly convey his hero’s plight.”Arachnophobia”(1990),with a much more comfortable budget pales into insignificance when you’ve seen Grant Williams’fight with the spider.The doll house,the scenes with the midgets,the metaphysical final are as awesome today as they were half a century ago.Do not miss the cast and credits at the beginning either. During its second half,except for the voice-over,the movie is almost silent and Jack Arnold sustains the interest with only one character.
With its inexorable progression -the hero slowly becoming on his own-,its first-class screenplay and a fine direction by Jack Arnold,who could ask for a remake? This movie and the three I mention above are genuine classics,they have in common fears hidden in collective unconscious.