Friday Night Movie: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
Welcome to the March Friday Night Movie! When I'm done live blogging this, I'll put some links to Midnight Warrior-calibre reviews at the end to extend the viewing fun. =)
0:15 WOMAN Oh, wow . . . I'm impressed and I don't know why.
1:14 What's with the clock? Is this one of those Everything-happens-in-24-hours-or-less movies?
1:23 . . . a strange red fireball coming out of the sky. LOL! . . . LOL!!! . . . LOL!!!!!!!
1:26 If you look closely, you'll see the twinkle in the actor's eye as he recites the character's lines.
1:36 . . . a herd of camels stampeded by a comet like object. Unbelievable. I'm less than two minutes in, but I'm already a lovesick goner for this movie.
2:03 Look! It's the Philippines! =D
2:06 Okay, he got Auckland right, but did he just point to Alaska while saying, "New Zealand"???
2:09 Did you see what he did with that globe? LOL! Why don't we have anchors like this on the news any longer? (Possibly because you can't get debonair with digital maps on blue screen?)
2:11 This is an exposition technique you don't see any longer. In more recent movies, you'd watch everything happening in those far-flung places and have to put two and two together yourself.
2:41 Um . . . it's not that scary yet, lady. Calm down!
3:09 As the quality is really poor, I have to explain that she sees a huge hand trying to grab her (and doing a bad job of it).
3:25 Oh, drats. Adulterers. =| What a buzz kill.
3:50 The community property routine only works for women. A man hasn't got a chance. A telling statement to come out of a decade feminists still love to bash! We are told that this was a time when men had all the power . . . and here is a man saying that it wasn't so.
4:55 His wife might be awful to live with, but his mistress isn't very nice, either. Don't be too quick to leap out of the frying pan and into the fire, sir!
5:07 She's not kissing you, Harry; she's kissing the money.
6:03 It's never fun to be the Cassandra. =(
6:33 Well, if it's all about money to you, too, Harry, then I'm not going to waste my warnings on you again.
7:26 Are they actually playing this straight???
8:38 Oh, I get it. Another instance of what happens when women have too much of the power.
9:32 You know, your husband's girlfriend is trying "to reach for your diamond," too. =P
0:36 Since the film is insisting on reminding us of the time, let's note that all the action we've just seen happened in a little over an hour.
1:39 How did he get home so fast???
1:43 Maybe you should marry Jess and hire me for the butler. Ha! That is almost exactly what she should do, although she'd be better off kicking you out entirely, you manipulative philanderer!
4:24 "Satellite," aye? When did we start saying "UFO"?
5:00 So she's having problems with a husband whom she loves but who is just after her money, suddenly sees a giant man trying to grab a huge diamond she's wearing, and then finds herself running alone through a barren desert, with nobody but law enforcers who don't believe her at the end of her road? Poor woman. No psychologist would believe it isn't all literally true.
7:27 He has the diamond! Watch him very closely now . . .
8:36 I wonder what time it is. =P But really, the way he hops from woman to woman and back in the space of a few hours . . .
9:27 The Star of India! . . . The most famous diamond in the world. Until Le Cour de la Mer came along, that is! =P
1:35 I'm not sure why it's so important for her to be believed. It's not as if there's an obvious need to warn people of some danger about to befall them. If she saw fairies in her backyard, would she insist that everyone believe in fairies?
1:59 LOL! Not a very subtle jump, but I like this butler.
2:11 Well, she blows hot and cold, doesn't she? I don't really blame Harry for wanting out of the marriage, although that doesn't mean he's not an ass.
2:43 It's our friend, the cheeky news anchor! =D
3:07 Who wants to bet that she'll hurl that glass at the telly?
3:30 LOL!!! . . . Okay, who bet on that happening? =P
4:02 Not till I've proved it to myself and to you! Yes, that makes sense: she wants people to believe her because even she is starting to think she's crazy--and that scares her.
4:21 It was very brave to say that.
4:35 Who goes hunting with a revolver? If I saw a man who was thirty feet tall, I'd want at least a shotgun with me.
5:36 I like this musical theme. It really evokes the idea of driving through the desert and seeing "nothing but sand and space."
7:19 AHA!!! (Take that, Harry.)
7:33 Good grief! You don't have to run up and touch it, Nancy.
7:43 AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! =O
7:56 First she doesn't listen to him when he tells her to get back in the car and then she screams at him to help her out of the mess she ran right into? I'm sorry, but I've just run out of sympathy.
8:56 Have I mentioned how much I like this butler?
9:25 Noooooo! . . . But it is kind of appropriate that a liquor bottle would have the final say. =S
0:06 Com on, Harry! Do you really think she'll stay with you now that there's no chance of getting Nancy's money?
1:01 Ooops! Too late . . .
2:47 The video quality is really bad, but can't you just imagine the look on Harry's face?
3:46 There's evidence of some kind of radiation. Is it possible, in what we call "real life," for a doctor to make a diagnosis like that? (I'm both doubtful and honestly wondering.)
4:10 I almost feel sorry for the guy. This looks really, really bad, and will just be made worse if he tells the truth.
4:53 We have nothing to hide. Really self-righteous for someone whose adultery was just unmasked . . . and who was just trying to leave town.
4:57 Come on, Honey, I'll drive you back into town. ". . . in my poor, sick wife's car!"
5:37 The serum that private nurse is using in her hypodermic needle . . . Is it silly to complain about the stilted use of medical terms in a movie that makes up its science as it goes along?
7:02 Don't Harry and Honey realise that a death by overdose might get pinned on the innocent nurse?
7:58 Did you see that???
8:09 How does the rest of her still fit into the room? Really.
8:35 Chains? Just because she's bigger than usual, they assume they'll need to chain her? It's slightly barbaric reasoning. What a strange convention of these sorts of movies to make the men of science the first to lock up what they don't understand.
8:40 Meat hooks?!?! . . . Plasma?!?! (Seriously, WTH?) . . . An elephant syringe?!?!?! (ROFL at the look on the nurse's face!)
9:56 Some kind of radiation! If this movie were remade today, what shibboleth could we blame Nancy's growth on while still retaining the high cheese factor?
0:23 Meanwhile, on the skankier side of town . . .
0:31 A question for all the dilemma ethics lovers out there: If doctors say that surgery can help them get to the bottom of a strange condition a woman has, but that they can't operate without her husband's permission . . . and the husband is openly adulterous and has mentioned that he wishes his wife would die . . . should we overrule the husband? . . . Hate me now, but I wouldn't overrule the husband. The bonds of marriage mean something--and if we don't like him because he clearly doesn't think so, why should we be allowed to do something that amounts to the same?
1:29 You just hide out and let her blow up like a balloon! It sounds ridiculous, but it's the exact sentiment every woman who has ever taken up with a married man carries in her heart.
1:39 Satellites, radiation, serum and pulleys! Oh, the science! =P
2:22 That gloomy music isn't distracting me from what a pair this sheriff and his deputy are.
2:36 It would be scarier if they gave us an idea of the scale . . . such as by putting it next to a car or a swimming pool.
3:36 We've got to keep quiet about this thing. Everybody'll think we're nuts! Prudent words! Who cares about being right when everyone around you thinks you're crazy?
4:26 Now that's what I was talking about . . . It's not as big as I thought it was, though. =S
4:46 The video freezes here. I'm not sure why. But let's pretend it's a radio play until it starts moving again, okay?
5:40 Oh, ho! This effect is cool! LOL!
6:55 Unbelievable. After everything that happened to Nancy Archer, they just walk right in.
7:11 What is with this sphere imagery? Seriously. I'm getting nothing Freudian or Jungian out of this.
7:31 If you noticed that Jesse's lips didn't move, then you know that the sound is out of sync now, too. =(
7:45 Diamonds . . . must be used to power this thing in some way. It's not out of the realm of possibility, but it's more of that sensational science.
8:31 This is where we should get "Look!" and "The Star of India!" and that bit about diamond-powered satellites . . . and a really cheesy bubble head effect.
9:44 Just drive away, mate! Or let Jess drive while you shoot at the monster!
What happens next is up to you. There are two alternatives:
a) Watch the movie with the audio muted and just follow along with my "subtitles".
b) Keep pretending this is a radio play and stop watching the video.
0:04 - 0:18 Sounds of gunfire . . . crumpling metal . . . a huge crash as the car comes down.
1:02 Sheriff: Charlie . . . the radio's shot, too. We might as well start walking. We'll come back for all that stuff later. It's going to be a long walk.
1:25 - 2:26 First Doctor: I've known Nancy since she was born. In those days, she was a beautiful child: fresh, young, full of the joys of life. But in the last few years after her marriage, she changed. Her health seemed to rise and fall with the tide of her emotions.
Second Doctor: A sad state.
First Doctor: A state not infrequent in this supersonic age we live in.
ROFL!!! Did he really just say that? And about the late 1950s??? Well, okay, the Space Race had just begun . . . but the "science" in this movie isn't even trying.
First Doctor: I'm afraid I was unwise in asking her to take Harry back after they had separated.
Second Doctor: When women reach the age of maturity, Mother Nature sometimes overworks their frustrations to the point of irrationality.
Does he mean menopause? =P
Second Doctor: Like a middle aged man of our age, who finds himself looking longingly at a girl in her early twenties.
The doctors might be using delicate language here, but this might be the first frank discussion of the "Middle Age Crisis"--as it affects both men and women--in cinema.
2:30 The nurse screams from upstairs and something comes crashing down.
2:37 Nancy: HARRY! . . . HARRY! . . . HAAAAAAAAARRYYYYY!
Sleeping Beauty is awake . . . and huge! All beware! Bwahahahahaha!
2:47 First Doctor: Nancy, Nancy, calm yourself! (To the nurse) Morphine! (To Nancy) Harry's asleep in his room. He'll be right here. (To the nurse) CALL THE SHERIFF!
Why? What could a lawman possibly do here? Threaten to arrest her until she calms down? No jail would hold her!
2:59 Nurse: Sheriff's Office, please. And hurry, operator! It's urgent! . . . Hello, Sheriff Dubbitt? Have you found Mr. Archer yet?
3:09 No, ma'am, but I've left messages all over town. . . Oh, she did, huh? . . . She is? . . . Yes, ma'am, I know it's an emergency. . . All right, I will. Right away. (Makes another phone call--to his wife?) Hey, Mary? I'm going out to Tony's Club and then I'm heading out to the Archers'. If Sheriff Dubbit calls in, tell him he'd better head out there, too. Okay? Thank you, baby. Bye!
3:49 Music . . . Which is probably just regular 50s club music. But I wonder if contemporary viewers heard something sleazy in these notes.
4:04 Harry: Now, now, there's no cutting here in Tony's Club, buddy.
Charlie: Mr. Archer?
Harry: It's the deputy! What can we do for you this time, Charlie?
Charlie: Your house has been trying to get to you all evening, sir. Didn't the bartender give you my message?
Harry: He did. And now you've delivered it in person! Anything else?
This is the late-50s equivalent of ignoring your text messages and voice mail. And it's much more callous and crass. Technology makes quite the buffer.
Charlie: Well, yes, there is. They say it's important. An emergency!
Harry: Well, thanks!
Charlie: All right.
Harry: (To Honey) Where were we, huh?
Honey: Here . . .
Did you see how smug she looked through the whole thing? Die, Tramp!
4:40 First Doctor: We never should have tried to keep this out of the papers. Poor girl, she's had so much publicity all her life. I'm afraid now there's no alternative. We have to notify the authorities!
Again I ask, what is the purpose of notifying other people? Is everyone with a strange condition to be considered a public danger? What a ridiculous line of reasoning . . .
Second Doctor: If you hadn't succeeded in giving her that sedative, there's no telling what would have happened.
First Doctor: Well, thank Heaven we got the chains on her arms and legs!
Second Doctor: How long will the morphine be effective?
First Doctor: No telling, with the size of her body, but we'll have to keep her under sedation till the State Police arrive. I'll phone the authorities . . . Operator?
Okay, I get that she's hysterical and out of control in ways that have nothing to do with her physical size, which is precisely why her new size is a danger to others. But let's say that somewhere down the line, she gets some therapy, works through her issues, and is judged mentally competent to be let alone again. In that case, will the authorities let her go?
5:11 Nurse: Doctor! . . . She's come to again!
First Doctor: More morphine!
Oh, you silly man of science! It doesn't work any longer, can't you see?
5:21 Voice: Operator? Operator? Operator, what's going on there? What's happening?
5:31 Nurse: She's loose!!!
5:44 There's something just right about the imagery of an angry, frustrated wife wrecking a home more thoroughly than any earthquake.
5:52 First Doctor: Operator? Operator?
5:58 Nancy: I know where my husband is! He's with that woman! I'll find him!
6:22 It's probably futile to assume anything logical about this movie, but I'll explain Nancy's clothes, anyway. As she would have burst out of her her regular clothes much earlier, my guess is that the kind nurse made her some makeshift wear--in XXXXXXXXXXL size.
6:37 Charlie: Hi, Chief! I was just on my way to the Archers'! I think she finally came to. You know, they've been asking for you over there. . . Did you find anything out there?
Sheriff: Get moving, will you?
Charlie: Sure, sure! Hop in! . . . Hey, where's the station wagon, Chief?
7:10 Doctor! Doctor, give us a hand with the door! (Is this Jess speaking? Whatever happened to his character?)
7:15 First Doctor: It's the Sheriff's car!
7:23 - 7:35 Charlie: Holy Toledo! What happened?
First Doctor: Thank Heaven you're here, Sheriff. It's Mrs. Archer! She's on a rampage! We've got to warn the town!
Nurse: She's grown into a giant!
First Doctor: Never mind! Get in the car. We'll explain as we go along. Drive into town.
7:37 I'm sorry, but I have no interest in transcribing what this incidental character is saying to his fuzzy little donkey. But inasmuch as it's something about stumbling across uranium today and prospecting for gold yesterday, it's significant.
8:29 Harry: Hey, Tony, something happening with your lights.
Tony: I've got eyes! I can see.
Honey: Who needs lights?
Harry: Well, I need another drink.
Oh, Harry! You're not so dumb and immoral that you lose all sense of foreboding. You know that this isn't a good sign.
0:13 Never mind the dialogue. You can guess what these extras have to say.
0:28 The composition of this frame is terrible. (Another reason to enjoy this as a radio play? LOL!) But I suppose that is where a willing suspension of disbelief comes in.
1:08 First Doctor: She'll tear up the whole town till she finds Harry.
Charlie: And then she'll tear up Harry.
To be fair, note that she's not indiscriminate in her wrath; she goes straight for the hotel where Harry likes to meet with Honey and ignores the other buildings. She's not really the public menace they feared she'd be.
1:29 Sheriff: See if you can locate him and put him in the police car. We'll try and draw her off. I'll call Baker for help.
1:54 Nancy: HARRY! HARRY! HARRY!
I repeat: the only places in danger of being torn apart by Nancy are those which were "guilty" of harbouring Harry and Honey in the first place.
2:04 Charlie: It's your wife. She's wrecking the town looking for you . . .
Harry: No! If she sees me out there, she'll kill me! She's crazy!
Just when I thought I couldn't dislike Harry any more than I already did . . .
2:20 Honey: You're the deputy. Do something!
Charlie: I can't shoot a lady!
Charlie is officially my favourite character!
2:17 The giant hand never gets old!
2:38 We should have Giant Drills like Earthquake Drills. It's best to be prepared in case something like this hits your town.
3:04 She's dead! Of course she is. =S And note that she's the only one so far. Again, Nancy is not a monster . . . just a wronged woman.
3:19 - 3:32 Harry: Nancy! Nancy! . . . No! Put me down! . . . Kill Honey! Nancy! . . . I can't breathe!
Back in uni, during a class on Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels in a Level-300 English Lit class, the professor suggested that the giant women of Brobdingnag are "the ultimate male fantasy." I suspect he was just trying to snap us out of our stupor by saying something outrageous. Nobody who has seen this movie could possibly take that suggestion seriously. (Right?)
3:47 Sheriff: Put him down, Mrs. Archer!
3:50 She's got Harry! And that's really all she wanted, but nobody paid attention until she was fifty feet tall! Now she'll return the favour by not paying attention to anyone the size of a toy. =P
4:10 First Doctor: You're not going to use that on her?
Sheriff: What do you want me to do? Put salt on her tail?
I totally missed the sarcastic folksy allusion on this one. I come from the generation of Aliens and "harsh language"--and yes, it's limiting sometimes.
4:33 The latest science lesson from this movie: Radioactive women glow in the dark when they're electrocuted!
5:04 Wait a minute. That's it? I seriously expected more carnage and destruction. Something to put the fear of giants into all our hearts. But I guess the only ones with anything to fear are cheating husbands and the tarts who sleep with them!
5:16 She finally got Harry all to herself. The bonds of marriage being what they are, did he really think he could escape the consequences of letting the woman he bound himself to "swell up like a balloon"? When one spouse goes down, so does the other.
As you can see, my thoughts on the movie hinge on the dysfunctional marriage of Nancy and Harry. While the rest of the town is theoretically at risk, the only ones who are ever in serious danger are the characters who are already romantically entangled. And Horror being all our modern age has left of both Greek tragedies and Medieval morality plays, we know that the guilty parties (namely, the cheating husband and his inamorata) are going to suffer the consequences of missing the mark. It's just too bad that the wronged party is too unbalanced to be a truly heroic avenger.
In real life, I know a woman who was so hurt by her husband's infidelity that she followed him and his mistress in her car. When he realised that she was tailing them and tried to lose her, he only succeeded in starting an intense car chase which ended in a crash that wrecked both their cars. And the one who told me this story was their daughter, who was in her mother's car and was traumatised into tears. And I tell you this sordid tale to show you that when a marriage gets ugly and everyone tries to be the "bigger" person rather than the "better" person, there cannot be any heroes or heroines.
But that's as far as my insightful moralising goes. As much as I had hoped to see some buried treasure of B-movie goodness, I must admit that Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is simply a "supersonic age" fantasy in which hell once again hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Here are some great Midnight Warrior reviews for you to chew on:
From Midnight, With Love -- The Mike always writes stuff worth reading. Plus, his review of this movie was done for "Women in Horror" Month!
My Own Little Corner -- Syrin has a great review that goes the extra mile by looking at references and parodies in other media--including that of the movie that inspired this whole "Monsters and Alien" Challenge.