Direction: Nathan Hertz (alias Nathan Juran)
Popular wisdom to the contrary, this probably is not one of the fifty worst movies ever made. No, I haven't compiled my own list of the Bottom 50, but I have certainly seen my share of bad to awful movies. An example of an awful movie is 1953's Robot Monster; an example of a merely bad movie is Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.
Despite its infamous reputation, 50 Foot Woman actually has a few pluses on his side. The acting, for instance. The performances are mostly competent, as in the case of voluptuous Allison Hayes as the title character, William Hudson as her no-good husband, and Yvette Vickers as the scheming vamp. In fact, Vickers is outstanding as the randy trollop out for a good time at anyone and everyone's expense -- especially that of Allison Hayes.
In addition, the pacing, photography, and dialogue are generally mediocre, not abysmal. But when it comes to the special effects . . . that's where 50 Foot Woman gets understandably hammered. Both the thirty-foot space giant and the fifty-foot giantess are sometimes transparent, and the colossal Allison Hayes' shots are almost all bad, at times "cutting off" her legs, having her walk into the scene from the wrong side of the frame, changing her size almost from shot to shot during her "attack" sequence, etc.
However, not every effect is the pits. There's an okay scene where Hayes rips off a hotel sign and uses her giant rubber hand to ransack Vickers' hotel room. Then at the end, Hayes' "electrocution" is fair, and the crowd gathering behind her fallen giant figure seems believable enough. But then there's the understandably infamous scene in which Hayes plucks hubby William Hudson from the barroom floor, but we see her lifting what appears to be a badly proportioned, incredibly obvious doll with yarn hair (!). Now there was no excuse for something as cheap as that. That just seemed to be a sign of carelessness indicating the producer didn't give a rip.
However, if 50 Foot Woman had featured adequate special effects, such as those seen in 1958's War of the Colossal Beast for example, it would be regarded as a poor sci-fi melodrama but nothing more -- certainly not one of the fifty worst movies of all time.
Now in addition to the special effects, the script is bad, though not awful. One curious aspect is that instead of calling the space giant's craft a UFO, it is always referred to as a satellite. Even stranger is the movie's bizarre sense of anti-logic. For example, throughout the film the space giant's craft just seems to hang around in the desert for no apparent reason.
Also, when two of the protagonists unwisely enter the giant's space sphere, everything appears to be made for normal-sized humans, despite the fact that the giant is thirty feet tall and so couldn't possibly fit within such confines.
Even weirder (if more wonderful): When Allison is found to have grown fifty feet tall, we find out when the nurse turns on the light in her bedroom and we see Allison's enormous rubber hand. No one asks how she grew that big without crashing through the walls and collapsing through the ceiling. Instead, somehow, the fifty-foot woman's fifty feet are contained within a room that is probably twelve feet across. Surreal, to say the least!
But whatever critics may say about it, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman did make money in its day. In fact, in the early sixties, the producers planned a sequel to have been shot in color and cinemascope with a healthier budget. Alas for Allison Hayes fans, it was not to be.
However, as many of you probably know, Attack of The 50 Foot Woman was remade in 1993 as a vehicle for actress Daryl Hanna. The special effects in his made-for-TV feature are first-rate. Unfortunately, the approach to the material is half lampoon, half heavy-handed feminist tract. It works neither as social satire nor as sci-fi thriller, but instead as resounding failure, with an even lamer "attack" sequence than the original. Of course, as we all know, good special effects do not a good movie make -- and vice-versa.