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Albert Dekker as Dr. Cyclops
What do margarine and a doctor have in common? They both try and fool mother nature.


Tagline: The Mightiest Thrill Picture Ever Made!

The Preshow Entertainment was commercials from the late '50s, the '60s and the early '70s. The first hunk was all for PET Milk, makers of evaporated milk since the 1800s, and still around today. In cans, this served the problem of refrigeration for people who still had iceboxes (like THE HONEYMOONERS). But also, it turns out, you could put this stuff in anything, as the advertisements told us repeatedly. There was even a recipe for spoonburgers- hamburgers with PET Milk mixed into the ground beef.

We also saw the famous "It's not nice to fool mother nature!" (Chiffon) and "Everything's better with Blue Bonnet on it." In the celeb testimony dept.-Godfrey Cambridge for Cool Whip, The Fifth Dimension for Jell-O, THE JEFFERSONS' English neighbor Bentley (Paul Benedict, who I swore was dead and isn't) also for Jell-O, and an Andy Taylor/Barney Fife Grape Nuts commercial. I have tons of these ads, so we'll have to watch some more of them soon.

If your doctor's nickname is Giggles, No, or Detroit, you may want to switch out your HMO. And if you do, make sure you don't get Dr. Alexander Thorkel, also known as:

DR. CYCLOPS. From 1940, the last RMC of 2006 told the story of mad (both crazy and angry) Dr. Thorkel, who has found a way to shrink things. This is all well and good if you have hemorrhoids or a huge ego, but otherwise, well, it's a horror/sci-fi movie, so someone's surely going to shrink. And as it turns out, it's all five of the visitors to Cyclops' remote Peruvian jungle lab.

Albert Dekker (who died in 1968 by "accidentally" hanging himself) plays the paunchy, bald, eponymous doc. In the opening, we see just how evil the doctor is after his student refuses to let him steal his idea in a usual "you're playing god" speech. Rather than letting it go, Cyclops murders the student, then exiles himself to Peru for years of research.

At the cusp of his experiments, he sends for some scientists to corroborate his evidence- Bill Stockton, Dr. Mary Robinson, Steve Baker, affable local Pedro, and the eminent Dr. Bulfinch, whose goatee, against cliche, doesn't come with a fake German accent. The visitors feel slighted by Dr. Thorkel for bringing them all the way to the jungle just for a ten second glimpse into a microscope (Thorkel is nearly blind, and keeps many pairs of Coke-bottle specs in a drawer). Bitter, they invade his lab, find his notes, and learn of the doctor's research. Angered, Thorkel tricks them into a room where he shrinks them.

The second half of the movie is the shrinkees trying to escape. They must battle chickens, bears, alligators, roosters, and Doc Clops himself (he gets his name from the Greek story), who is now hellbent on killing them. This would make for a fine horror/sci-fi adventure, if not for the mismatched tone of the movie. Facing death, the shrinkees find time to joke and do other irrational things. If they don't fear for their lives (and they should, as not all of them make it), then why should we? And Doc putters around aimlessly with no plan to catch them other than saying he will, then taking a nap. Fee Fi Ho Hum.

But the movie DR. CYCLOPS does have something going for it. Besides being one of the first horror films in Technicolor, its effects, at the time, were actually...special. Yes, Cyclops isn't looking directly at them when he talks, but remember, this is 1940. I mean, "talkies" were only around for a decade. A low budget movie (witness the lack of star power, as most of the main players were unknowns), the money went mostly to these effects, which included props built 5x actual size. Maybe it wasn't HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS, but this movie must have looked better than that when you saw it in the theater. And it was also the forerunner to the genuinely scary THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, which would come a full 17 years later (and FYI is being remade as you read this).

DC was directed by Ernst Shoedshack, who with intrepid adventurer Merian C. Cooper made the grandaddy of all effects movies KING KONG (their first movie, the 1925 silent documentary GRASS, is a must see).

I've always loved giants. ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN. And Irwin Allen's LAND OF THE GIANTS was my favorite TV show back then.

Another movie best viewed for its film history rather than plot, DR. CYCLOPS is not available on DVD. And that's another reason you should come to RMC.

"Get back, you ridiculous fowl!! " - Dr. Bulfinch, when threatened by a rooster.

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