Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
“See a female colossus… her mountainous torso, skyscraper limbs, giant desires!”
Director: Nathan Juran
Cast: Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers
Synopsis: When an abused socialite grows to giant size because of an alien encounter and an aborted murder attempt, she goes after her cheating husband with revenge on her mind.
“A 30-foot giant? Oh, no!” exclaims obnoxious comic-relief Deputy Charlie (Frank Chase) when his boss, Sheriff Dubitt (George Douglas — the younger, less successful, brother of Melvyn) explains why he just asked him to fetch the riot gun. It’s an example of the priceless dialogue that peppers this ultra-cheesy favourite of fans of bad movies, and lines like these at least provide momentary relief from the awfulness of everything else about Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.
Alison Hayes plays Nancy Fowler Archer, the title character who, when we meet her, is a regular sized individual. Her problems are mostly psychological and emotional thanks largely to the infidelity of her no-good husband, Harry (William Hudson — The Reluctant Astronaut) who spends most of his time canoodling with the slutty Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers — Sunset Blvd.). Nancy is fabulously wealthy, but her money hasn’t protected her from one nervous breakdown, and it looks as though she’s headed for a second one when she claims to have seen a ‘satellite’ blocking the road between the seedy little bar in which she knows Harry and Honey are cosying up to one another and her swanky home.
We know Nancy isn’t cracking up, though, because we also saw the ‘satellite’, which looks more like a floating ping-pong ball than any kind of UFO. And although Sheriff Dubitt is highly dubious of the hysterical Nancy’s claims, her wealth gives her plenty of clout in the small town in which she lives, so he feels he has no option but to break out the riot gun and go hunting giant ping-pong balls. Naturally, Dubitt initially finds nothing, but it’s not long before the unlucky Mrs. Archer encounters the satellite and its oversize occupant for a second time. This time, however, her exposure results in her growing to a fantastic size and, with the typical wrath of a woman scorned, she embarks on a rampage through the town.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is as silly as its title suggests, but it’s watchable even as it struggles to extricate itself from the bog of domestic strife in which the story parks itself for a good chunk of the running time. The 50 foot woman’s attack, when it finally takes place, is something of a disappointment, but the site of the statuesque Miss Hayes striding slowly across the country in a bikini fashioned out of bed sheets must have fuelled countless teenage fantasies back in 1958. For some reason which is almost certainly down to either the technological ineptitude of the movie’s special effects team or simple lack of money, she’s transparent in every long shot when in her heightened, erm, height. But then Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is the kind of movie that revels in its cheapness and which does little to hide the shortcomings of its special effects and props. For example, a giant hand made of papier-mache wanders uncertainly into shot while the actor whose waist it is endeavouring to encircle fills the time by screaming lustily. The hand has thick tufts of hair on its back, but no moving parts…
Director Nathan Juran was so embarrassed by how bad this movie was that he insisted he be credited as Nathan Hertz, but the fact he did the same thing with The Brain from Planet Arous suggests that maybe Mr. Duran was incapable of accepting where (at least part of) the blame truly lie.
(Reviewed 11th May 2014)