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‘Attack of the 50ft. Woman’ Blu-ray (review)

Produced by Bernard Woolner
Written by Mark Hanna
Directed by Nathan Hertz 
Starring Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers,
Roy Gordon, George Douglas, Ken Terrell, Otto Waldis 
Released by Warner Archive

 

A tad overrated, but very entertaining. Unlike so many other B-movies that bore us with stiff rote acting, this one goes in the opposite direction – overacting and histrionics.

Stunning Allison Hayes – as the manic, anguished, cheated-on Mrs. Archer – might even elicit genuine sympathy from the viewer. William Hudson and Yvette Vickers – as smarmy Mr. Archer and his young floozy flame – are a perfect match; don’t miss their open-mouthed kisses.

While clearly not made with serious intent, there is some real tension in the one scene that takes us inside the spaceship… if you allow that the extraterrestrial somehow shrinks himself to fit inside. Otherwise there is plenty to laugh at, from silly lines to awful effects. Inspired moments include a jitterbug, a fistfight with a butler, and a prospector with a packmule.

Is there a theme?

Some say it’s feminist: the woman’s growth in size symbolizes her self-awareness, and her determination to right the wrongs committed against her. I took it as a joke and enjoyed the whole thing, although I wish we’d seen Hayes in a bikini for more than 10 seconds. And while the final scenes of destruction are satisfying, they are also very brief. Bill Warren thinks the whole is too “ponderous and flat” to be a real camp classic, but Joe Dante famously called it “perfect.”

The Warner Archive Blu-ray offers 2007 commentary from Vickers with Tom Weaver. Vickers talks most of the time, but is sprightly and funny. Weaver reads from a copy of the actual screenplay used by Vickers in 1958, on which Vickers made notes about her wardrobe and how she wanted to exaggerate several lines.

To her credit, she amped up some of the more angry lines (e.g. adding “dammit” at the end) and cooled off some of the more sensitive lines (e.g. adding “baby” at the end). Hayes appeared in several other 1950s B-flicks including The Hypnotic Eye. Vickers appeared a year later in Attack of the Giant Leeches wearing leopard-skin underwear. Hudson played the heroic doctor from Amazing Colossal Man.

A true 1950s cult classic!

 

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