THE MAGNETIC MONSTER (1953) Reviews and overview

  

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‘A cosmic Frankenstein that threatened to engulf the world and hurl it into outer space!’

The Magnetic Monster is a 1953 independent science fiction film, directed by Curt Siodmak, and starring Richard Carlson, King Donovan and Jean Byron.

The film marked Carlson’s initial foray into sci-fi and horror and he would follow it with several better-known titles that would forever associate him with that genre: It Came from Outer Space (1953), The Maze (1953), Riders to the Stars (1954), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and such TV series as Thriller and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

It is the first episode in Ivan Tors’ Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) trilogy, followed by Riders to the Stars and Gog.
A pair of agents from the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) are sent to investigate a local appliance store, where all of the clocks have stopped at the same time, and metal items in the store have been magnetized. The source of this is traced to an office located directly above the store, where scientific equipment is found, along with a dead body. There are also signs of radioactivity, but the cause of the difficulties itself is clearly no longer in the room or the immediate area.

Investigation and request for citizen input eventually lead to an airline flight carrying a scientist, Doctor Howard Denker, who has developed signs of radiation sickness related to something in a heavy briefcase he carries and clutches irrationally.

Before dying, he confesses to experimenting with an artificial radioactive isotope, serranium, which he had bombarded with alpha particles for 200 hours (8 days and 8 hours). Unfortunately, his so-far microscopic creation has taken on a life of its own, literally: it must absorb energy from its surroundings every eleven hours, and in the process doubles in size and mass each time, releasing deadly radiation and incredibly intense magnetic energy…

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Reviews:

“For the same reason, casting the sturdy but colorless Richard Carlson in the starring role was also a wise decision. If only The Magnetic Monster plodded slightly less, it might have deserved the somewhat overused epithet “forgotten classic.” As it stands, it will have to settle for “intriguing oddity” instead.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“We hear a lot of what this ball of energy is up to and what it could do–it is apparently doubling in size and draining surrounding energy, so much so that it could drain a nearby town of all its power. And after it’s done conquering Smalltown USA, it’ll move on to the world, which it will eventually spin right off of its orbit. But none of this really happens–it just sort of sits there, glowing in a chamber while all these scientists look at it through a giant Viewmaster.” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!

“Gadget-laden but brisk, the movie uses stock footage from the German 1934 movie Gold to good effect.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Handbook (Batsford, 1982)

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Fun Facts:

Footage from the 1934 German film Gold was used during the climactic scenes.

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