Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Attack of the 50 Foot Movie Review

(Allison Hayes stops traffic...literally!)

One of the shortest Sci-Fi films of all time featured one of cinema's tallest heroines. Clocking in at a sparse 66 minutes, director Nathan Juran's 1958 cheapie, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman is big on both feminism and physique.

West Virginia native Allison Hayes, a former Miss America contestant (as Miss Washington, D.C.) is titular titaness Nancy Archer. Nancy experiences gargantuan growth after several contacts with a towering space alien who resembles Dwight Eisenhower.

Nancy drunkenly relates her initial close encounter to her adulterous husband Harry (William Hudson) who views it as an opportunity to swindle her $50 million inheritance by having her committed to an asylum. Harry, who is doing the Funky Chicken with town tramp Honey Parker (former Playboy centerfold Yvette Vickers), agrees to accompany Nancy on a UFO search in the desert.

(William Hudson examines Allison Hayes' non-50 foot foot)

When the mountainous Martian indeed appears, a harried Harry abandons his skepticism and his wife as he flees to Honey's side. Meanwhile, radiation causes Nancy to grow into history's tallest feminist, even as sexist images of her bursting out of her clothing dominate the screen.

The riotous rampage in which Nancy savages the city streets looking for hapless Harry is classic camp fare. Several times vexed viewers see this monolithic mama walking in the same pattern with the scene reversed against different backgrounds. Hilariously, the only correlation between Nancy crushing the nightclub where Harry and Honey are hiding and the mayhem within the building is the appearance of a giant papier-mache hand.

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman is one of the first films to address a wife's stand against spousal abuse. Despite its obviously absurd storyline and inane imagery, Attack can be termed a proto-feminist film. Its controversial conclusion in which Nancy puts a final and fatal end to hubby Harry's hijinx is raw and radical.

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman has been honored in the form of several remakes, including a 1993 made-for-TV venture starring Daryl Hannah and director Fred Olen Ray's 1995 spoof Attack of the 60- Foot Centerfold. Neither of the latter-made flicks captures the seedy simplicity of the original, whose atrocious special effects serve only to enhance the revenge theme.

Long before actress Farrah Fawcett doused her mate with gasoline in 1984s The Burning Bed, Allison Hayes became an unlikely feminist forerunner when she thundered across the silver screen in a bed sheet bikini and put the literal squeeze on hateful Harry.

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman is a capriciously crummy cult classic which, in just over an hour, delivers space aliens, UFOs, an Amazonian avenger, and the demise of a Playboy centerfold. But, more importantly, this trashy tome works brilliantly as an ode to the end of male chauvinism.

(Allison Hayes searches for a better movie script)