All I knew about Attack of the 50 Foot Woman going in was that it’s considered a cult classic and is a bit of cultural touchstone. What I wasn’t aware of is that it’s also considered one of the worst science fiction films ever made. Which is a statement that I can’t help but agree with. I think a large chunk of why I had such a hard time with this film is I can’t relate to the era in which it was made, you know the rampant misogyny. This film really lacks for strong female characters and fails horribly at The Bechdel Test. I am aware as well that this film is a bit of riff on other classic films involving growing people such as The Amazing Colossal Man. But as I have yet to see those films I’m forced to look at and judge Attack of the 50 Foot Woman by its own merits.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman opens with a philandering husband Harry Archer (William Hudson) drinking with his woman on the side Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers) while discussing his less than happy marriage to Nancy (Allison Hayes). Along with her recent stint at a mental institution and ways for them to eliminate her while keeping her sizable fortune. While on her way home Nancy is driving through the desert when she comes across a space ship, or as she calls it a satellite and has a frightening run in with the ships gigantic inhabitant. She runs in terror, abandoning her car and running back to town. When she arrives no one believes her, though the local Sheriff Dubbitt (George Douglas) and his deputy Charlie (Frank Chase). Though when they arrive, they find nothing and Nancy drives off home. Seeing his chance to get rid of Nancy by having her recommitted, he calls her psychiatrist Dr. Isaac Cushing (Roy Gordon). Who feels that she is simply stressed and probably drinking again. The next day Nancy convinces Harry to go out into the desert to look the ship and prove that she isn’t crazy, to which he reluctantly agrees and borrows a handgun from the butler. As the night starts to fall, the pair find the spaceship along with the giant inhabitant. After firing at the giant with no effect Harry runs away leaving Nancy behind. She’s later found on top of her pool house delirious and is sedated by Dr. Cushing. Honey and Harry then decided to kill Nancy by injecting her with an overdose of her sedative and when Harry goes to her room to do the deed, discovers she’s starting to grow to gigantic size…
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is devoid of likable characters. Which is its biggest downfall. Well except maybe the butler, who I thought had a thing of Nancy, but that’s never really explored or even addressed. At best its mildly hinted at. Honey is the next closest and she’s the films major villain. She at least owns what she is. Everyone else is weak or comes off as condescending. Not what makes for an enjoyable viewing experience.
Another issue I have with this film is that it’s crippling slow. Most of the film is Nancy tries to get people to believe she saw something in the desert and even when that happens the film takes its time to make her large. Which doesn’t even come to fruition until the final moments of the film when she goes on her “rampage”.
Man I got bones to pick with this film for days, as I even disliked the effects. Which, is shoddy and in my opinion look terrible. Many of the large scenes those that are large, Nancy or the Alien become semi transparent which is very distracting. When she is large she’s rarely seen in the same shot as people, which should be doable as King Kong and Might Joe Young both managed that feat.
Final thoughts, I could keep griping on this film. As it is simply not a good film and the kind of not a good film that I enjoy. It’s simply not a fun watch, but that’s just my opinion. It is a cult classic and had to achieved that status on some kind of merit. Though what it is escapes me. 4/10