Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Colossus of New York

Today's Monster Memories are of:
"The Colossus Of New York"
1958 was a good year for monster and sci-fi movies. It's also significant that I was born that year. Significant to me, that is, nobody else, really.

This is a little low-budget film that few seem to remember, but it had a big impact on me when I saw it on TV when I was around 5 or 6. I recall sitting on my Grandaddy's lap while we watched it, so I didn't get too scared. He was a cool guy, an easy-going ex-Marine with a wry sense of humor, whose hobby was ham radio. Sitting with him at his desk full of equipment and a microphone probably accounts for the fact that I went into radio as an adult. He died too young, only in his 50's in 1968 in an accident at the Warner-Robins Air Force base in Georgia where he worked as an electrician. Someone else's careless lack of attention to shutting off a switch caused him to be electrocuted. Mostly, the way I know him is through pictures. So, the few memories I have of him are important, and when I watch this movie now I think of him. The main character played by Ross Martin was killed in a senseless accident also.

The hulking figure of the robot body, with it's glowing eyes and wide shoulders, combined with the harsh electronic voice, were quite frightening to me as a kid. The image of it smashing through the glass wall stuck with me and I never forgot it. Back then I thought it was a Frankenstein movie as it tromped around in it's big boots, and in retrospect it really is. Except Dr. Frankenstein had the good sense not to install death rays in his creation's eyes; never a good idea when you don't know how the brain will react to finding itself in a monstrous body!

I was fortunate enough to find this on a bootleg DVD recently, since it hasn't been released officially yet. Watching it for the first time in nearly 44 years brought back a flood of nostalgia, and I could swear I caught a whiff of my Grandaddy's aftershave lotion, almost as if he were there watching it with me again. Weird!

In the August 1981 issue of Fantastic Films magazine, there was an article about the movie with rare behind-the-scenes photos, which I scanned in to share with you below. Since you can't come over to my house to browse through the collection bookcases, (unless you were willing to make the trip) the least I can do is bring out items and post them here for you. Enjoy!

Here are some lobbycards you might enjoy perusing; no high-rez versions, unfortunately.

In the recent Futurama movie "The Beast With A Billion Backs," Stephen Hawking zaps some arguing audience members with eye lasers, then says, "I didn't know I could do that." I was immediately reminded of the "Colossus" scene and wondered if it was an intentional homage. It certainly has parallels; a brilliant genius mind trapped in a body that doesn't work right, who speaks with a mechanical voice, suddenly discovering he has eye beams!

Some "Colossal" Links: Monster Hunter and Senses of Cinema

No comments: