Three scientist travel deep into the Amazonian jungle to meet a Dr. Thorkel. Little do they know that this madman will do anything to pursue his scientific breakthrough. Know one will get in his way of scientific triumph! WOOOHAHHAHA!
Dr. Cyclops is a classic sci-fi horror film from 1940, the “golden age” of horror.* This film was directed by Ernest B. Shoedsack and he was a pioneer of film. Shoedsack brought us great classics like the 1933 King Kong, Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young.
Like his past movies; Dr. Cyclops also has elaborate sets and great practical effects. Maybe not “amazing” by today’s standards, but the craftsmanship is truly inventive. Also, Dr. Cyclops was the first horror film to be shot in Technicolor giving the film it’s over saturated effect.
One of my childhood memories is watching classic horror films with my dad. It was because of this time with my father that my love for horror films started. He introduced me to movies like Frankenstein, The Wolfman and this sci-fi horror Dr. Cyclops. I loved this movie and even today I feel childhood memories returning when I hear that eerie sound of Dr. Thorkel turning the the crank to his shrinking machine.
Despite some cheesy acting, the movie is very fun. The large props of Dr. Thorkels hands are a great asset. It also makes use of rear and front screen projection effects, a very innovative process used in King Kong. You will notice this technique in scenes where the shrunken people are standing before a gigantic Dr. Thorkel. Not bad for 1940 and no computers to do all the work for them! It shows a true commitment to the craft. What I wouldn’t give for one of those giant hands as a Halloween decoration in front of my house!
Does anyone else completely love the sound of classic films? The underlining soft tone throughout the films with little pops and crackles here in there are so cool. It accents the eeriness of the movies. I really love that.
Thorkel is a great character and the driving force for the entire film. He’s played by Albert Dekker and he works the role perfectly. Thorkel isn’t necessarily crazy, just obsessed with the progression of his research. Much like Dr. Frankenstein, he’s not aware that he has pushed scientific experiments too far. Or the boundaries or ethics he’s breaking as well. During this time period of horror films, the mad scientist was an extremely popular theme. I think that’s because the world was scared of the things like radiation and nuclear testing. It only makes sense that Hollywood tap into the fears of culture. Science was (and still is) a popular theme in horror films and it is still today. I hate these films but Human Centipede is a good example of that same theme. The crazy doctor conducting terrible experiments and breaking all codes of conduct to do so.
One thing that sticks out with Dt. Thorkel are his eye glasses. The guy suffers from miserable eyesight and he wears these insanely thick framed spectacles. Without them he’s practically blind. The glasses are also the main object behind the title of the film. The thing about the title is that there really is no “Dr. Cyclops.”. At one point the little people destroy his glasses in order to blind him. They manage to destroy all but one of the lenses. Leaving Thorkel to use just one eye, thus making him Dr Cyclops. I don’t know who thought of the title. I suppose the term “cyclops” instills fear and sounds better on a poster. However, it may allude to a much grande meaning.
Cyclops represents who Thorkel was all along. A man with only one lane of vision, not being able to see the world beyond one point of view. This singular vision turns him into a power hungry titan that will kill to reach his goals. Thorkel losing his use of one eye is just a metaphor for who he truly is. His lack of “vision” leaves him a danger to himself and anyone he knows. This is a good question for us all. Do we have traces of Dr. Cyclops in all of us? Is something narrowing our vision to the truth, slowly turning us mad? Wow, that’s some deep thinking right there.
Oh well, whatever the reason for us all, Dr. Cyclops is a favorite classic film of mine and I am proud to include it in my list.
- The golden age of horror is a time period of that began in the 30’s and ended in the late 40’s. These movies primarily made their mark with the use of sound. Many people are familiar with the Universal Monster films like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman and The Creature From The Black Lagoon. It is the first of the movements of horror after the “Silent Era.”