Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I see tall people!

One of the great "bad" sci-fi classics from the 1950s, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, is airing today at 4:45 PM on TCM.

Allison Hayes plays the title role, although she starts out the movie normal-sized. She's an heiress trapped inside a loveless marriage, with a husband (William Hudson) who's cheating on her, currently with Yvette Vickers. Worse, the husband is telling the mistress that he'll be able to get the wife out of the way somehow, by having her declared insane. Since she's already spent time in a sanatorium this should in theory not be too awful difficult to do. It doesn't help the wife's case that she's making things easy for her husband. One night, in a fit of rage, she goes out for a drive on the back roads, where she sees some sort of UFO, and a giant human-looking alien (giant only courtesy of terrible special effects) coming out of the UFO. So far, so good, but she makes the big mistake of telling her husband! Surely she should have realized that he was trying to get her committed, and that nobody would ever believe that she saw this giant alien.

Of course, if she didn't tell her husband, we wouldn't have a movie; or, at least, we'd have a very different movie. And besides, we in the audience know that she's really telling the truth. In a movie like this, the truth will out, too. Eventually, our wifely heroine gets in a heated argument with her husband, which leaves her sick in bed, and the husband thinking he's got an out. Except that this is a police case, and they want to keep him and the mistress in town for questioning. That, and our heroine is going to make a recovery of sorts, helped by that alien. That "help" involves turning her into a giantess like him, so that she can gain her measure of revenge....

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman has a fairly poor plot, and fairly poor acting, which both serve to make the movie a good one to have a laugh at, even if that wasn't the filmmakers' intention. But what's really hilarious is the lousy special effects, which I referenced above with the first appearance of the alien. When he first makes Hayes a giantess, we don't see her in her 50-foot glory for quite some time. Instead, all we see is a giant papier-mâché hand sticking up out of bed. (How the entire body could fit in the upstairs bedroom is only one of the many plot holes as big as the characters.) And then there are the images of Hayes walking through town wrapped in just a towel serving as a makeshift bra and blankets or sheets for a skirt. In fact, a bra and skirt for a 50-foot woman would have to have a circumference in the 20-foot or more area, something no normal household towel and blanket does. But it's not as if they could show her naked.

If you like movies that are so bad you can't help do any but laugh at them, you'll love Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

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