Bert I. Gordon, when you hear that name many people smile but some tremble. Many of us remember his back projected monsters (THE BEGINNING OF THE END), transparent giants (THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN) and his malevolent ghosts (TORMENTED). Okay so his effects were usually less than special but his movies were always entertaining. That brings us to the movie I am here to-night to talk about, THE CYCLOPS.
Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott, looking just so gosh-darn sexy with that short haircut) is searching for her fiancée who vanished 3 years earlier while flying over a dangerous mountain range in South America. Refused permission to fly into that same mountainous area she and her crew go anyway. On board is Russ (James Craig) who is secretly in love with Susan and is probably hoping all they find is a pile of bones, pilot Lee (Tom Drake) who is just in it for the money, and Marty (Lon Chaney) who is looking for uranium. Oh he doesn’t want to mine it; he just wants to file a claim as part of an elaborate stock swindle he is planning.
Okay so they make it to the lost valley (actually the ubiquitous Bronson Canyon) and right away Russ sees, or thinks he sees, a giant lizard. Lon finds his uranium, in fact the whole valley is loaded with it; he’s gonna be rich!
While exploring the group discover there are indeed giant lizards, also giant spiders, birds, rodents and . . . well . . . every living thing in that valley is huge! Russ starts thinking maybe it isn’t uranium in the ground but some other, more dangerous radioactive element (hey it was the 50’s, you had to keep “radiation” in the plot!). Guessing they all might start growing too if they hang around too long Russ, Marty and Lee all want to split but Susan says no . . . and she has the keys to the plane! (So 3 guys can’t overpower 1 woman just long enough to take the keys? Just keep repeating “It’s only a movie . . .only a movie . . .”)
Finally they all locate a cave where it looks like someone has been living. In fact someone is still living there, a 25 foot high one eyed monster (Duncan “Dean” Parkin). Now hands up all of you who know right away who the giant cyclops really is. Ah . . . I thought so!
From then on it’s a race to see if they can get back to the plane before the giant gets them. Do they make it? Oh come now, you don’t expect me to spoil the ending, do you?
There is a nice behind the scenes story attached to this movie. Lon Chaney’s biological mother, Cleva Creighton, visited to location every day to bring Lon his lunch. If it seems a little odd that a 51 year old man should be brought lunch by his mom consider this; Lon Sr and Cleva divorced under bitter conditions and Lon told his young son that Cleva was dead. When Lon Jr found out the truth it created a rift between him and his father that never really closed. After the death of his step mom, Hazel Hastings, in 1932 Lon tracked down Cleva and remained very devoted to her until her death in a Hollywood nursing home in 1967.
The makeup for the Cyclops was handled by Jack Young and it is very good, quite convincing and scary as all heck! Duncan Parkin also played the title role in WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST wearing an equally scary makeup design. Paul Frees got a hefty payday for standing in an echo chamber and growling to dub the Cyclops “voice”.
Now forget the fact that you can see right through some of the monsters and that matte lines are jumping all over the place. After nearly 50 years this is still a fun movie. Pop some corn, open up some root beers and get comfy on the sofa some Saturday afternoon and enjoy this one. You’ll be glad you did!