Saturday, June 1, 2024



THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK (1958) is included in a three-film Blu-ray set from Kino entitled SCI-FI CHILLERS. The black & white movie produced by Paramount involves many genre veterans: Otto Kruger (DRACULA'S DAUGHTER), Robert Hutton (THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE), Ross Martin (THE WILD, WILD WEST), Charles Herbert (THE FLY), producer William Alland (THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) and director Eugene Lourie (GORGO). 

After returning from Europe, where he was awarded an international peace prize, brilliant scientist Jeremy Spensser (Ross Martin) is killed in a traffic accident. His father (Otto Kruger), who happens to be a brilliant surgeon, removes Jeremy's brain and keeps it alive, and then goads his other son, another brilliant scientist named Henry (John Baragrey) into building a giant metallic humanoid body to house the organ. The plan works--but while Jeremy is still "alive", he's also cut off from all humanity, including his wife (Mala Powers) and his young son (Charles Herbert), who think he is still dead. As Jeremy's anger at his situation increases, so does his power--and his father and brother find themselves unable to stop him. 

I had never seen THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK before. The story has a number of intriguing ideas and concepts, but it doesn't fully explore them. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you'll know I'm always complaining about movies being too long. This is an example of a movie being too short. At only 70 minutes, there's not enough time to explore all the elements the scenario presents. We are just introduced to Jeremy's character before he's killed right off the bat, and before we can find out for ourselves how brilliant a scientist he supposedly is. While in his robotic body, Jeremy begins to develop all sorts of fantastic powers, but there's no real explanation why he's suddenly able to do these things. The ending is supposed to be a slam-bang climax at the United Nations, but it comes off as haphazard and underwhelming, negating any feeling the audience may have for Jeremy and his plight (the film's low budget is very much in evidence during this sequence). 

The movie treads very heavily into DONOVAN'S BRAIN and FRANKENSTEIN territory--at one point we see Jeremy's brain in a tank, hooked up to all sorts of equipment, and Otto Kruger's statements about how wasteful it is to have genius brains tied to fragile bodies sound exactly like the type of dialogue Peter Cushing would intone during his time as the Baron in the Hammer Frankenstein series. 

The appearance of The Colossus is quite striking (see picture below). But why would Henry and his father build such a clunky, outlandish contraption for Jeremy's brain to reside in? There's a subplot that has Henry jealous over Jeremy, and desirous of his widow. One wonders if Henry made such a creation to assure that his brother would be distraught over his condition--but why, then, did he give Jeremy the power and capability to destroy anyone he wanted, including Henry?? (Robert Hutton plays Jeremy's best friend, who also has feelings for the widow, but this is another element that isn't fully developed.) 

My verdict on THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK is that it needed a longer running time and a bigger budget. Every science-fiction movie produced by William Alland does feature thought-provoking concepts, and this one does as well, but more should have been made out of them. The film does provide a showcase for Ross Martin's voice talents as the "re-born" Jeremy. 

Kino's release of THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK has excellent picture and sound quality, and its original trailer is included. It has a brand new audio commentary with Tom Weaver, who brings his usual unique attitude to the proceedings. Weaver gives a lot of attention to the original script for the film, and he allows Larry Blamire to offer up a few comments. Another guest star on the commentary is Ron Adams, the man behind the annual Monster Bash Conference held in western Pennsylvania (an event at which I'm a regular attendee). Charles Herbert was a special guest at Monster Bash multiple times, and Adams, who got to know the former actor, provides info about the man's life and personal troubles (like a lot of child performers, Herbert had problems as he got older). 

There's also what is called a "sidebar"--an hour-long discussion on the film with Tim Lucas and Stephen R. Bissette. The duo talk about various aspects of the production. It's a fun program, and I like the idea of these sidebars, which Kino is also presenting in their Republic Pictures Horror Collection. I believe this format allows the participants a chance to loosen up and not be constrained by the actual film, as they would be on a commentary. 

Kino's SCI-FI CHILLERS set also has THE UNKNOWN TERROR and DESTINATION INNER SPACE. These, along with THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK, are not the greatest sci-fi movies in the world, but it's to Kino's credit that they have released them with special extras. 

Charles Herbert and THE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK

1 comment:

  1. This Kino set is one I plan to send away for. I don't think I've seen any of these films, or at least I don't remember them. Otto Kruger is a fine actor, and usually plays intense, serious roles. But I just saw him in one of the Thin Man movies, and he was very funny. The extra features sound worthwhile, especially getting to hear Ron Adams.