Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Colossus Of New York!

The Colossus of New York is another of those classic sci-fi flicks I've long wanted to see, but never caught on television nor came across a copy of either on DVD nor VHS. But I got it on DVD and finally at long last got a look at what is one of the most striking creations in the long sci-fi genre. There's more than a glimmer of classic Frankenstein about the robotic creation here, almost so much that I wonder if there was some legal action.

Colossus Takes Manhattan
Spoilers below. 

The plot is pretty simple. A genius named Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin) is killed prematurely in an accident leaving behind a wife and son, and his brain surgeon father (Otto Kruger) cannot bare to see his son's legacy and capacity to do good go unfulfilled so he takes his brain and puts inside a gigantic robot built with the help of his electronics expert brother.  That same brother Henry (John Baragrey) has a romantic interest in Anne the widow (Mala Powers) which she doesn't requite, and that creates some friction. Eventually after a year the robot-Jeremy goes mad and seeks to kill all humanitarians, and starts by killing his brother. The father, who has long been the slave of the robot-Jeremy arranges a gathering at the United Nations which robot-Jeremy crashes and uses his electric eye-beams to kill. Eventually he comes to his senses briefly and instructs his son how to turn him off forever.

End big spoilers.

Powers in the Hands of the Colossus
It's not got a lot of plot to it actually and I didn't even mention Robert Hutton as a family friend who keeps popping up now and again as an alternative love interest I guess, but who adds almost nothing to the actual story itself.

Kruger, Baragrey and Martin's Brain
The most surprising thing to me is that father Spensser, the guy responsible for all the havoc really after selfishly not accepting the death of his son gets to live after so many have died. In terms of movie logic this one left me aghast. As far as I could tell he was the villain of the piece and he gets off and is allowed to live, seemingly without consequence.

Another odd thing about this movie is the score by pianist Van Cleave. The exclusively piano-music background was odd to say the least and gave the movie an unusual operatic quality, making it feel far less naturalistic than it might've otherwise. A lot was done in this movie with sound, with much action taking place off screen like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. It seemed obvious to me that the robot creature didn't move all that well and they took great pains to hide that fact. It does look awesome in the dark though with the bright shining eyes, a real sense of menace.

Directed by Eugene Lourie, I expected a little more from this moody atmospheric send up of the classic Frankenstein story. Lourie is properly famous for his direction of sci-fi classics The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, the underrated Behemoth the Sea Monster,  and one of my all-time favorite flicks Gorgo. There are some pretty nifty scenes here and there, but the whole doesn't add up like it ought to do.

This movie, as entertaining as it was, was sadly in some ways a disappointment, but I'm exceedingly glad to have at long last had the chance to see it.

On a slightly different but related note, I thought of the vintage poster above for the classic 1931 Frankenstein when I saw the Colossus. While it has little to do with either movie, both make their "monster" a behemoth and both have deadly eye-beams. At least the Colossus really does have eye-beams.

Rip Off


  1. Quatermass II, where the burning man comes down the gas tower and this film were the two films in my youth that scared me - really scared me. I remember the glowing eyes and the clunky movement really entered my psyche. Don't remember any of the story despite your review but those eyes.....! Thanks again Rip

    1. I can see that. The eyes really make an impression. It's an oddly effective make-up at times and at others wildly goofy. But the whole atmosphere of the movie is so eerie.

      Rip Off

  2. The Cover Of The Day
    That Classics Illustrated Frankenstein
    That is one amazing comic.
    Very horrific. That comic IS Frankenstein
    The art is just so fitting.

    1. I bought this one a few years ago for the awesome cover, but the interiors are quite lush also.

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