Tuesday, October 26, 2010

31 Days of Halloween - Day 26 - Movie 1


Dr. Cyclops (1940) has one of the most basic plots imaginable, but remains a highly enjoyable movie, not in spite of this, but because of it. Dr. Thorkel (Albert Dekker) a mad scientist using a large radium deposit in the heart of the jungle to experiment with miniaturization summons three scientific experts (and their guide) to confirm some of his research, which his own failing eyesight won't allow him to do hmself. When his guests get too nosy about his work, Thorkel shrinks them down to Barbie doll size. The miniaturized humans spend the rest of the movie trying to escape while Thorkel hunts them down.

Dekker is wonderful as looney scientist whose bottled up madness always seems on the verge of breaking free. The rest of the cast is fine, but their characters are pretty much one note types. The real star of this movie are the visual effects by Gordon Jennings, which are superb. Using a mix of rear screen projection, optical compositing and oversized props, the miniaturized people interacting with the full sized scientist and his environs are truly convincing.

The movie was directed by Ernest Schoedsack, half of the directing team for King Kong (1933) and he's done an outstanding job here as has cinematographer, Henry Sharp and Matte artist, Jan Domela. The movie is really beautiful to look at, especially the opening scene with the green light and flickering shadows.


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