The Cyclops, 1957. 5/10

Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott) journeys to a remote Mexican mountain range to look for her missing fiancee, Bruce. Along for the adventure are Russ (James Craig), Lee (Tom Drake) and Marty (Lon Chaney, Jr.). They are supposed to take a police escort (Manuel Lopez) because the government’s worried about the uranium deposits there. Chaney punches him out though, so he’s left behind.

Chaney’s character is so dumb he tries to punch out the pilot as well. Their forced landing leaves them…stranded in a uranium field.. At less than :20 minutes in there’s a cool giant lizard welcoming committee. Marty provides the greed subplot–he’s in it for the uranium payola. The other subplot is a sort of romance triangle with Russ trying to mess with Sue, even though the main point of the mission is looking for her guy, Bruce. More giant critters show up–just as Lee and Marty plan to split. Everyone get on the same page, in time for a cool lizard fight. Why has Marty lasted so long? The bad guy’s supposed to be the first victim, we say.

Actually, Marty’s the only smart one; why should they stick around until the giant critters scoop them up? Anyway, Russ surmised that they might also be affected by the giant mutation. So, finally, at :40 minutes in, we get the Cyclops, at least his view of the group. “I have the feeling something’s watching me,” says Susan. There’s remnants of a plain crash. We’re getting warm…there’s a cave. Looks like the missing plane’s engine is being rebuilt nearby. At the :45 minute mark the Cyclops finally gets into action. His disfigurement is pretty horrific; Russ “as a scientist” has to explain how a guy became the Cyclops (amazingly, they don’t figure out that he’s Susan’s fiancee). Marty, of course, wants to kill him.

In this sort of movie, it’s usually the kiss of death to try and communicate with the creature/alien/monster. But here it makes sense, as the guy’s essentially human. Thankfully, by now Marty has become a casualty. So, shouldn’t they all just leave, having escaped the Cyclopean cave? Not so fast, because, thanks to Russ, who divines the Cyclops’s identity, Susan sort of lingers to check him (Bruce) out for a bit. Approaching the plane, The Cyclops is normal-sized until the gang leaves it; I.e., when the plane switches to a model. A low-tech burning spear to the eye, and the Cyclops is done. The gang just does lift off, and they’ll either get arrested for flaunting the authorities, or strike it rich with the tons of uranium.

The Cyclops had some things going for it: a good premise and fairly good special effects (using real critters always helps authenticity). Everything else was rather weak though: the pacing held things up–too much talking, too much time spent on subplots. And, although we see the giant critters pretty quickly–a good assortment of them too–the Cyclops appears very late, and doesn’t do much even then. But the worst element is the acting; Chaney overplayed his part, and all the others are more or less just playing against him. He does bring some life to the script, but none of the other actors really create any sympathy or interest.

Not terrible, maybe worth a look for the special effects. Farmermouse says five acorns. 5/10.

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