Doctor Cyclops on DVD

Monday, 21 August 2017 18:49

Doctor Cyclops - out now on DVDFour experts in disparate fields of science and engineering are summoned to a remote base in the Amazonian jungle where Dr. Thorkel is doing top secret research. Thorkel dismisses them shortly after they arrive, but – curiosity aroused – they insist on staying, determined to find out what the Doctor is working on. The chance discovery of rich radium deposits in a local mine suggests it is not anything good.

Thorkel (Albert Dekker – “The Wild Bunch”, “East of Eden”) traps his visitors and subjects them to a ray that shrinks them to one fifth of their normal size. Their troubles are only just beginning, however, as the Doctor plans to subject them to further laboratory tests before feeding them to his vicious black cat! Can they survive long enough to return to their original size? The director is Ernest B. Schoedsack of 1933 “King Kong” fame.

Shot in Technicolor, this film is a riotous adventure yarn that brings to mind “The Island of Doctor Moreau” and countless Hammer flicks. Doctor Thorkel is an enigmatic character, charming, mysterious and also bearing a rather coldblooded and ruthless streak. He certainly would not be out of place amongst the nutty scientists seen in the likes of TV’s Gotham, with his bottle-thickness glasses and space-age hazmat suit lending him an otherworldly aura.

The four experts have less interesting personalities, though Dr. Bulfinch (Charles Halton – “The Best Years of Our Lives”) at least has the guts to stand up for the group and defy their diabolical captor. A broad assortment of animals provide much of the entertainment, including a tiny horse, an enthusiastic dog called Tipo and the aforementioned, rather menacing cat Satanus.

The design and execution of the special effects is surprisingly effective even today. The film mixes back projection and foreground props to make the interaction between Thorkel, his menagerie and the mini-heroes believable. Continuity is strong and the sense of danger is ever-present.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of this movie, and amazed I had not heard of it before; it would have sat very well amongst the seasons of old sci-fi and fantasy films I watched as a child. Perhaps it was shown and I was unlucky enough to miss it. Either way, I am glad I have now had the pleasure and absolutely recommend it as a bit of a cult delight.

The picture quality of the DVD is very good whilst not embarrassing the special effects. The only special feature is a trailer.

"Doctor Cyclops" (1940) is out now on DVD, courtesy of Fabulous Films. The main feature has a running time of 72 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

 

Last modified on Monday, 18 September 2017 19:05

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