The Magnetic Monster (1953)

Article #1654 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-24-2005
Posting Date: 2-21-2006
Directed by Curt Siodmak and Herbert L. Strock
Featuing Richard Carlson, King Donovan, Jean Byron

A scientist must find a way to destroy a deadly isotope that feeds itself on anything around it.

When I saw this movie as a kid, I was extremely unhappy with a fact that a movie with the word “monster” in the title didn’t have a monster; as far as I was concerned, that radioactive isotope just didn’t count. Still, I never quite forgot the movie, and I was really glad to finally get around to seeing it again thirty years later with different expectations. It has some flaws; the acting and the script are uneven, and some of the attempts at humor fall flat. Nonetheless, a crisp pace, some odd touches and an unusual story give this movie a lot more power than it might otherwise have had. It’s also one of those movies that really effectively uses extensive footage from other sources; much of the climax of the movie uses footage from the old German science fiction film GOLD, and the movie does a very good job of integrating the footage with the movie. The only problem I had with this older footage is that one final plot twist (a Canadian scientist goes mad and tries to hoodwink the project) seems to exist solely to allow them to use even more footage from the original film. Two odd touches bear mentioning; I find it rather charming that the concept of overfeeding manages to connect both the main storyline and the subplot about the scientist’s wife, who, despite being four months pregnant, is still skinny. His solution with both the wife and the monster is the same – feed them more than they want; honestly, Weight Watchers should condemn this movie. And another odd touch is that the super-computer used by the scientists in the movie has that most odd of acronyms – MANIAC. Hence you get lines like “I’ve got to consult the MANIAC.” and “The MANIAC is never wrong.” Still, I have the perfect response to comments about them feeding the information to the MANIAC, and that is “A maniac with a lot of knowledge is a threat!” And the first person who can tell me the source of THAT quote wins a DS Pat on the Back!

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