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Monday, June 12, 2017

The Magnetic Monster (1953)




Well I’m back with yet another product of the ‘50s obsession with the atom. Here we see the effects of another scientist’s attempts to play God. What is it this time? Prehistoric mayhem from a serum? Perhaps a giant mutated insect the result of atomic bombs? Could it be the preservation of a human head in a tray? None of the above, though that would have made for more fun.

Dr. Stewart is a family man as well as a scientist working for the government. We know this because of the charming and oddly forced interaction between himself and his wife. While talking about why she hasn’t gotten fat yet (she is pregnant), which is a reoccurring theme, he gets a call. The appliances at a local shop have become super magnetized. Above the shop they find a lab with one man dead and another missing. The investigation leads them to the missing man and an element that is growing exponentially in size and danger. If it isn’t stopped the world will be consumed by this magnetic monster! The only way they can destroy it is to feed it electricity and the only plant powerful enough is in Canada. Off to Nova Scotia they head.

Don't ask your wife why she isn't fat yet? Trust me!
Okay a ’50s science fiction movie called the Magnetic Monster and there isn’t a damn monster! It is some kind of subatomic particle that is carried around in a metal tube, which is the only thing that we see. Hell, we don’t even get to see any deaths on screen. The threat from the “monster” is implied and not overt. It is an interesting idea but makes for a boring movie. We get them traveling from place to place to have meetings to discuss what to do. And honestly that is about all that happens.

It is also obvious that this movie was made on the cheap. You have stock footage of airplanes that don’t match, one fighter takes off and another is shown flying. The cast is fairly small and there are a few locations and footage from other movies is spliced in. The most obvious is the use of another movie’s ending to fill in for the big bang that happens to stop the titular creature. I’m not kidding about this. They used the ending from a twenty-year-old, at the time, German film to fill in for their big finale. This has the consequence of making it very awkward and strange. You have characters suddenly wearing clothes that weren’t in style for the ‘50s so they would match the actors in the much older movie. You even have one of the characters inexplicably switching into different clothes for no apparent reason. Again, just to match the older footage. I mean if the world is going to possibly end would you really take the time to put on overalls and a hat?

Dear God this is a horrifying creature. Really it is.
This is an odd movie. Of all the movies that I’ve reviewed here that originated from the ‘50s this might be the most serious science fiction entry. They really do try and have an interesting story and take the themes seriously. Since the script was the product of the great Curt Siodmak it’s intelligence doesn’t surprise me. But relying too much on the Science can make a movie like this dull, which it is. Toss in a tiny budget and the concessions made to cover for it makes The Magnetic Monster a bad movie. I recommend skipping this one.




© Copyright 2017 John Shatzer

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