In my series on the history of science fiction, I am looking at films made in the Golden Age. Some films played on the fear of nuclear energy and the power it had to mutate: It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955), The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), The Fly (1958), and the most enduring, Godzilla (1954) from Japan.
It Came From Beneath the Sea
After an encounter at sea with an unknown underwater creature, a naval
commander works with two scientists to identify it. The creature they are
dealing with is a giant, radioactive octopus that has left its normal feeding
grounds in search of new sources of replenishment. As the creature attacks San
Francisco, the Navy tries to trap it at the Golden Gate Bridge but it manages to
enter the Bay area leading to a final confrontation with a submarine.
The Amazing Colossal Man
Lt. Col. Glenn Manning is inadvertently exposed to a plutonium bomb blast at
Camp Desert Rock. Though burned over 90% of his body, he survives, and begins to
grow in size. As he grows, his heart and circulatory system fail to keep pace
with his growth, and he is gradually losing his mind as a result of reduced
blood supply to his brain. He reaches 50 feet tall before his growth is stopped.
By this time he has become insane. He escapes and wreaks havoc upon Las Vegas
before he is finally stopped.
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Scott Carey and his wife Louise are sunning themselves on their cabin
cruiser, the small craft adrift on a calm sea. While his wife is below deck, a
low mist passes over him. Scott, lying in the sun, is sprinkled with glittery
particles that quickly evaporate. Later he is accidentally sprayed with an
insecticide while driving and, in the next few days, he finds that he has begun
to shrink. First just a few inches, so that his clothes no longer fit, then a
little more. Soon he is only three feet tall, and a national curiosity. At six
inches tall he can only live in a doll's house and even that becomes impossible
when his cat breaks in. Scott flees to the cellar, his wife thinks he has been
eaten by the cat and the door to the cellar is closed, trapping him in the
littered room where, menaced by a giant spider, he struggles to survive.
After her husband Andre Delambre is crushed to death in a mechanical press,
his wife recounts to his brother Francois Delambre and police Inspector Charas
the events of the previous few months. They were very much in love and with
their little boy, a very happy family. Andre was experimenting with
teleportation - transporting objects from one point to another by breaking the
object down to the atomic level and then reassembling it in a receiver a
distance away. The system had some glitches - it seemed to work with inanimate
object but his cat disappeared when he tried teleporting it. He thinks he's
solved all of the problems with his invention and decides to try and teleport
himself. When a fly enters the teleportation device with him, disaster strikes,
and he accidentally exchanges one arm and his head with that of a fly which was
in the transfer chamber.
Japan is thrown into a panic after several ships explode and are sunk. At
first, the authorities think its either underwater mines or underwater volcanic
activity. The authorities soon head to Odo Island, close to where several of the
ships were sunk. One night, something comes onshore and destroys several houses
and kills several people. A later expedition to the island led by paleontologist
Professor Kyôhei Yamane, his daughter Emiko, and young navy frogman Hideto Ogata
(who also happens to be Emiko's lover, even though she is betrothed to Dr.
Daisuke Serizawa) soon discover something more devastating than imagined in the
form of a 164-foot-tall (50-meter-tall) monster whom the natives call Gojira.
Now, the monster begins a rampage that threatens to destroy not only Japan but
the rest of the world as well. Can the monster be destroyed before it is too
late, and what role will the mysterious Serizawa play in the battle?
[adapted from IMDb]
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books,
a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science
fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now.
Follow her at http://eepurl.com/bbOsyz