As CGI got better it became less convincing. There’s something about the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park that look better than the hyperrealistic things computers could conjure today. One of the problems of the Star Wars prequels was the overabundance of fake crap you know did not exist, and hence could care less about. (Not always: I still have good words for the middle one, with the scenes of Trantor, er, Coruscant, and the final battle, which avoided the numbing muddle of the opening scenes of Ep. 2.) There is, however, a gold standard against we can measure these things, a style of special effects so transparently false it must have been absolutely impossible to suspend disbelief.
Which brings us to the work of Bert Gordon.
Okay, well, they didn’t spend all the money on the titles, so they’re saving it up for the really cool stuff! We meet our hero, who at first glance is a bucktoothed Clark Gable as Clark Kent:
They’re in the deepest reaches of Mexico, looking for uranium. They brought along this minxy lass . . . .
. . . to be the FIP, the Female in Peril. She’s along because her husband crashed in these mountains years ago, and she hopes he’s still out there somewhere wandering around. Well, they find uranium and lots of it, and we all know what that means. MUTATION! So first they find a giant lizard, which is obviously film of a small lizard cut into the scene with scary brass music indicating peril. There is no possible way anyone thought it was real.
But they keep piling it on: a giant mouse is consumed by a giant hawk:
Since the movie is called the Cyclops, we’re guaranteed an enormous mutated man, and sure enough, we get him. I’ll give them this: it’s an inert, predictable, unbelievable, rote monster movie with all the basics and not a whit of charm or enthusiasm, but it has one moment which must have made the audience sit up, and would scare the hell out of any kid who caught it on Saturday afternoon TV.
Yes, that works. If he looks familiar, he should; it’s the Amazing Colossal Man, more or less. It’s the same actor: Duncan Parkin. He’d reteam with the director right away for two Colossal Man movies, the second of which haunted me as a kid because of his shot-up face. Like those movies, the giant is rather . . . translucent. Even when he's solid he doesn't look integrated into the picture, he doesn't look to be occupying the same space.
Interesting how everything mutates and gets bigger except the trees.
Lon Chaney Jr. is on hand, and seems mostly sober. It’s obvious to everyone that this is the FIP’s husband, but it takes her a while. At least they have nice little chat:
Rawr! My voice is provided by Paul Frees!
I know a good doctor in Scottsdale! He can fix that up just fine.
Eventually the guy who wants to sleep with the FIP stabs Enormo-Husband in the eye with a flaming spear, and they fly out.
If nothing else, it's nice to know that when your face is all shot up, you've lost your hair, you're down to one eye, and insane from a half-decade of wandering around a poisonous landscape, you still have a sense of modesty.