Even for such a low budget movie, Bert Gordon’s THE CYCLOPS has an unusually hungry appearance. With its undernourished special effects, desolate Bronson Canyon settings and lost-and-lonely title character, the movie practically begs for its supper, inviting our sympathy if not our charity.
It does offer a stalwart cast of Hollywood stars, fallen though they are, including James Craig (THE HUMAN COMEDY), Tom Drake (MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS) and Lon Chaney. Though Craig sleepwalks through his scenes and the easy-going Drake soldiers on, Chaney, all-too-comfortable with its grade Z budget, chortles and guffaws between swigs and seems as happy as a well-lubricated clam.
Sloe-eyed leading lady Gloria Talbott parlayed her unorthodox beauty into a dozen faceless fifties westerns but found her niche in a series of iconic genre films, including I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, THE LEECH WOMAN and as the star of a preeminent Allied Artists double-feature pairing the indelible DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL and THE CYCLOPS.
Talbott plays Susan Winters, a woman obsessed with finding her fiancee who’s gone missing in a remote Mexican terrain. With the protective Craig in tow, she hires Drake and Chaney to pilot a plane in search of her boyfriend.
What they find is a motley parade of irradiated, oversized animals (the usual suspects, iguanas, spiders, etc.) but it’s all prelude to the appearance of the title character, a two-story man-child wearing diapers and uniquely grotesque silly-putty make-up; his forehead has been pulled down over his nose, leaving him with one bulging eye with which to see. Susan is slow to recognize that bellowing giant (his groans voiced by Paul Frees) as her long-lost fiancee but by the time she does time has run out on both the forlorn cyclops and the film.
Warner Archives released The Cyclops in two versions. The first release featured a fine, nicely detailed transfer but was missing a few grisly seconds in Craig’s battle with the monster. WB was put on alert and released a new, uncensored disc to the public. This is a real feather in the cap of Warner Archives… would other studios react so quickly and so well?
Update- Warner Archives have just added The Cyclops to their streaming service so we can experience Ms. Talbott, her over-sized hubby and inflated iguanas in glorious high defintion!