Bert I. Gordon’s classic sci-fi film, “The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957) is an exceptional example of a B-movie. A B-movie is a film that usually consists of a low budget and straightforward storyline, and is less-publicized than major features. The genre is also typically chosen (for example, romance, sci-fi, detective). In this case, “The Amazing Colossal Man” falls into the sci-fi category.
This film showcases how low budget it is, as it only runs for 80 minutes, quite a bit shorter than the average feature film.
Employing relatively not well known actor’s factors into the cheaply made film; Glen Langan stars as the colossal man himself, along with Cathy Downs as his fiancée, and William Hudson as Dr Linstrom.
The plot of the movie consists of a test explosion of plutonium that does not detonate on time, and after some time, a civilian aircraft passes the explosion zone and suddenly crashes, and Glenn Manning jumps out to rescue the pilot. However, the explosion that occurs, and he is unfortunately caught in it.
Miraculously, Glenn barely survives, with 3rd degree burns on his whole body, and his hair burnt away, doctors are baffled as to how he survived. The next day, the doctors and his fiancée are even more baffled as his skin has completely recovered with no scarring.
Carol is then not allowed to see her fiancée as he has been moved, but once she is allowed, she is shocked to see he has grown into a giant. Dr Linstrom explains to Carol that exposure to the blast caused his cells to multiply rapidly that results in his extraordinary growth (about 8 feet a day). Over the course of Glenn continuing to grow, he becomes increasingly sad and distant as he feels out of place.
Glenn then walks around Las Vegas, is not over 60 feet tall and is visibly confused. He frightens the public, but is approached by Linstrom, Carol and Coulter in a helicopter with a large injection, hoping that it will turn Glenn back to his normal size. The syringe is plunged into Glenn’s ankle, but Glenn uses it to kill Coulter, picks up Carol and walks across a dam. Using a megaphone, Linstrom asks that he spares Carols life, which Glenn does, but he is then shot down and tumbles to his death.
As mentioned earlier, the plot is straightforward, however at the end, there is quite a twist, as the audience expects Glenn to return to normal after he is injected, however it seems as though this just makes everything worse, and leads to his demise. As Scott Ashlin describes:” I have to say that the ending is a bit anticlimactic, and that Glenn’s rampage doesn’t last nearly long enough, but overall, the movie does an admirable job of keeping the stupidity coming, so as never to quite lose my
interest.” (Ashlin, 2016).
Glenn mentioned earlier in the film that he “should’ve died that day”.
The special effects of Glenn’s size are kept to a minimum to compensate for money, but as Veno of Coolasscinema.com says: “Director Gordon takes advantage of every opportunity available in his tiny budget to give Manning as much gravitas as possible before succumbing to this state of madness.” (Veno, 2014).
The movie also differentiates with the fact that it’s not a man who rampages and destroys cities throughout, and rather, it focuses on how he loses himself and hates himself for what he has become. Frank Veenstra states:
"…till the story works out since it picks a more emotional approach rather than a spectacular one with the amazing colossal man smashing buildings and throwing cars (it happens, though not until the very end of the movie.). Instead the movie remains more humble and humane, filled with emotions involving around the main character, who is broken inside by the man who he has become.” (Veenstra, 2008).
Ashlin, S. 2016
Veenstra, F. 2008