Review: Dr. Cyclops
DVD: Dr. Cyclops (1940)
Based on the short story of the same name by Henry Kuttner, Dr. Cyclops tells the story of Dr. Thorkel (Albert Dekker, whose untimely death in 1968 is a story itself!) who has been using radium to shrink animals. With his eyesight failing, he invites 3 fellow scientists to help with his work in the jungle, but once the work is completed they refuse his requests for them to leave and they discover his shrinking secret. What does a half crazy scientist do when his secret has been outed? He shrinks them all of course! What follows is a cat and mouse game as the now miniature prisoners attempt to escape the short sighted flailing of Dr. Cyclops.
Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack (King Kong, Mighty Joe Young), Dr. Cyclops was nominated for an Academy Award for best effects…and it shows! 17 years before The Incredible Shrinking Man thrilled audiences by miniaturising a man and have him terrorised by everyday animals and objects, Dr. Cyclops has 5 shrunken people all trying to survive while a full size menace is in pursuit, and plays out like an extended episode of Land of the Giants.
Cutting edge effects (for the time) are also complimented by a stunning colour picture, as Paramount Pictures made this the 1st American horror/sci-fi movie to be made in full three-strip technicolour. Although filmed on a set, the vibrant colours bring to life the lush vegetation of the jungle setting, with only the occasional matte painting background and composited picture giving away the illusion.
Dekker plays Dr. Cyclops wonderfully; a slow burning menace constantly bubbling under his controlled exterior, with occasional flashes of madness that hint at his inevitable breakdown into rage and revenge. The entire cast give great performances and it amazed me to see that the majority of the cast were born in the 1800’s! What would they think of me now watching them at home on a big screen television via a little round disc? If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d think this was made in the early 1950’s when sci-fi was all the rage and scientific experimentation at the top of most news stories. The amazing effects work and colour photography can not be praised high enough for the time period in which it was made.
Dr. Cyclops is a very enjoyable movie for the whole family to watch, though little ones may hide behind a cushion on the odd occasion when Dekker goes ‘full Cyclops’. It never outstays its lean 77 minute running time and I’d have happily sat through more of their shrunken shenanigans.
Dr. Cyclops is released on DVD on 21st August 2017, and you can buy it by clicking HERE. ALL money raised by purchasing from Amazon via our website is given back to our listeners and followers in upcoming competition prizes. The more people buy, the bigger our prizes!
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fabulous Films.