Movies From the Black Lagoon: Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman - 1958, Unrated
By Tom Doty
This year it became necessary to crawl out of the Lagoon and venture all the way to Brooklyn, New York to see this week's feature with a paying audience. Why journey all of that way? How could you not when the 50 Ft. Woman was being chosen as the opening film for the Coney Island Museum annual " Sci-Fi Summer" film series?
The Coney Island Museum itself is worth the trip. The site house all manner of 'Mermaid" memorabilia and features separate rooms for its dancing girls and freak show. The freaks actually rule the roost at the museum and operate the venue's "Freak Bar" as well as adding local color to the surroundings. All this and the films are only five bucks and include free popcorn. Going was a "no brainer."
Now, back to the 50 Ft. lady. The film opens with rapid pacing as we learn that a satellite has been spotted all over the globe and is due to pass over California next. Cut to Nancy Archer as she swerves to avoid a spaceship that has landed smack dab on the center of the two-lane she is navigating. If that's not bad enough a giant emerges and reaches for her with a hair encrusted hand. She promptly screams and turns back to the bar she came from.
We soon learn that she's married to a gigolo named Harry and he has been keeping time with a floozy named Honey. She is a gold-digger in training who helps Harry come up with a scheme to use the giant sighting to destroy Nancy's credibility and have her committed so they can steal Nancy's fortune.
The plan never gets to come to fruition as our giant returns while Harry is humoring Nancy by driving around and looking for it. The giant's arrival is too much for the feint hearted Harry. He drives off and leaves Nancy to her fate. Strangely she winds up back home with no idea of how she got on the roof. Soon she's showing signs of more than casual contact with the giant when she begins morphing into an enough woman to fill Madison Square Garden.
Before you now it Nancy is busting out of her house (straight through the roof) and thundering towards the local bar to settle things with her wayward husband (after trashing Honey's room worse than "The Who" could ever manage). It all leads to closure on a colossal scale as Mrs. Archer turns the tables on Harry by putting the ultimate squeeze on him. Fun stuff.
Fun but so poorly made that the film only sticks in one's memory due to poor special effects, melodramatic emoting, and some of the worst dialog you're likely to hear outside of an Ed Wood festival. What works however are a portion of the visuals. Despite the fact that the EFX make the Giants look transparent they are still creepy (especially the male alien who should look familiar as he also plays the bartender). Then there is Allison Hayes as Mrs. Archer. She looks like a shrew in the early scenes but turns into a total 50's babe when she becomes a behemoth. This film has influenced tons of other movies (most recently "Monsters vs. Aliens" whose Ginormica owes it all to Ms. Hayes). There's also the feminist angle (pretty clever that no one takes this lady seriously until she's big enough to squash them). No matter how you cut it this is one of those "so bad it's good "flicks that doesn't get enough attention and never gets to open a film series. The rest of the films unspooling this summer will include more camp (King Kong vs. Godzilla) and even some respected classics (Planet of the Apes). If you're in Coney Island some Saturday between now and mid September then you owe it to yourself to catch a Sci-Fi classic in this unique venue.
Best Line: "When women reach the age of maturity. Mother Nature sometimes overworks their frustrations to the point of irrationalism."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: email@example.com.