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The Magnetic Monster (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

January 28, 2012 by  



The first film of the “OSI Trilogy” by Ivan Tors, “The Magnetic Monster” is a film from 1953 that explores man’s tampering of isotopes and possibly causing the potential destruction of their own planet.  Sure, it is over-the-top but it has that ’50s sci-fi flair that classic sci-fan’s will enjoy!

Images courtesy of © 1953 Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: The Magnetic Monster

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1953

DURATION: 80 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Black & White, Dolby Digital, 1:33:1

COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: January 2012

Directed by Curt Siodmak

Screenplay by Curt Siodmak, Ivan Tors

Produced by Ivan Tors

Associate Produced by George Van Marter

Music by Blaine Sanford

Cinematography by Charles Van Enger

Production Design by George Van Marter

Set Decoration by Victor A. Gangelin

Starring:

Richard Carlson as Dr. Jeffrey Stewart

King Donovan as Dr. Dan Forbes

Jean Byron as Connie Stewart

Harry Ellerbe as Dr. Allard

Leo Britt as Dr. Benton

Leonard Mudie as Howard Denker

Byron Foulger as Mr. simon

Michael Fox as Dr. Serny

John Zaremba as Chief Watson

Lee Phelps as City Engineer

Watson Downs as Mayor

Roy Engle as Gen. Behan

When a young scientist’s experiments with a new radioactive isotope cause it to double in size every 12 hours, a nearby town’s existence is threatened by the deadly radiation.

Ivan Tors, the Hungarian writer/filmmaker/producer will be known by his fans for his sci-fi and animal films. But most of all, using scientific fact (or what was thought as “fact” during that time) rather than focus on scientific fantasy which earned Tors his admiration of many sci-fi followers.

In the 1950’s, Tors created the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) trilogy featuring the films “The Magnetic Monster”, “Riders to the Stars” and “Gog”.  As part of MGM’s Limited Edition Collection, “The Magnetic Monster” and “Gog” have been released on DVD as part of their made-on-demand program.

“The Magnetic Monster” is directed and co-written by Curt Siodmak (“The Invisible Man Returns”, “The Wolf Man”) and Ivan Tors.  The film stars Richard Carlson (“It Came From Outer Space”, “The Little Foxes”, “Creature from the Black Lagoon”), King Donovan (“Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “The Defiant Ones”, “The Hanging Tree”) and Jean Byron (“The Patty Duke Show”, “Invisible Invaders”, “Jungle Moon Men”).

“The Magnetic Monster” begins with an anomaly detected by agents of the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI), meanwhile at a local appliance store in the city, employees start to notice that their clocks have stopped working and everything inside the shop has been magnetized.

Immediately, OSI agents Dr. Jeffrey Stewart (played by Richard Carlson) and Dr. Dan Forbes (played by King Donovan) are summoned to the store and conduct radioactivity tests.  It is discovered that there are signs of radioactivity in the second floor above the store.

Because of the severity of the situation, police must clearance the area and must be armed to shoot and kill if anyone tries to get in.

As the two agents conduct their test, they discover scientific equipment and also a dead body.  But what is causing the radiation is no longer in the room.

As the investigation continues, the agents learn that a scientist holding a briefcase has taken a flight on an airplane.  Fearing that whatever the scientist is carrying may cut the electricity of the airplane, the agents asks the pilots to land the plane immediately.  Meanwhile, the scientist starts to bleed due to radiation sickness.

The agents have learned that the scientist has developed an artificial radio active isotope known as serranium and he bombarded it with alpha particles for more than eight days.  But now, the isotope has doubled its size and is literally hungry and wants to absorb energy from everything around it and each time it does, it doubles its size.  It’s only weakness is electricity.

As the isotope is kept under lock and key and is researched at a nearby university, Dr. Stewart and his wife Connie are expecting a new baby and planning on moving to a new house.  But as they discuss family plans, Dr. Stewart receives an urgent call that an explosion had taken place at the university and the scientist researching the isotope are now dead.

The OSI agents realize that because the isotope is growing at an abnormal rate, it may affect the Earth’s rotation and spin it out of orbit. And to prevent that, the OSI agents must find a way to stop the isotope and destroy it.

MOD PLAYABILITY:

Part of the worry of viewers who had bad experiences with MOD DVD’s is its manufacturing.  Granted, those problems were a long time ago but so far, I have not had any problems with MGM’s Limited Edition Collection.

With “The Magnetic Monster”, its printed quite well with printing on top of the DVD, it’s not a plain silver disc with letters. If you didn’t know it was MOD, you would think it was an actual DVD release.

As for playability, I played “The Magnetic Monster” on my Blu-ray player and DVD player with no problems. I then played it on my Mac and PC, no problems whatsoever.

VIDEO AND AUDIO:

“The Magnetic Monster” is presented in black and white (1:33:1 full frame).  As far as picture quality goes, the film has been manufactured using the best source available. The picture quality for “The Magnetic Monster” does have quite a bit of scratches and some damage but fortunately, it doesn’t hurt the overall film.  The film is watchable, some frames have more scratches than others but for the most part, “The Magnetic Monster” looks good.

As for audio, audio is presented in Dolby Digital.  You do hear a little hiss on “The Magnetic Monster” but overall, dialogue can be heard quite clearly.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Magnetic Monster” comes with a theatrical trailer.

When it comes to 1950’s sci-fi films, Ivan Tors films tend to have respect among fans, mainly because there is not so much fantasy but writer Ivan Tors tries to put as much science fact into the overall story and thus giving viewers a chance to learn from the films.    And while sci-fi fans who appreciate older sci-films will be nostalgic with the release of both “The Magnetic Monster” and “Gog” on DVD.

“The Magnetic Monster” was rather interesting because sci-fi films at the time would focus on aliens landing on Earth but rarely does anyone full delve into the science of what can affect Earth.  With the OSI trilogy, these stories were well-thought out at the time and thus, Ivan Tors really had a lot of fans who followed his work.  And with this film, what if scientist who are always constantly trying to invent new things, end up creating a monster?

Sure, in today’s society, we often see these storylines involving virus and diseases that are killing humanity but back then, in 1953, what if someone thing harmed Earth’s rotation and also was a radiation risk?   Bare in mind, this film came out during the Cold War, people worried about the effects of radiation and after World War II, seeing the effects of nuclear bombs inflicted in Japan, needless to say, “radiation” has long been a worry for humanity, especially in the United States in the ’70s and seeing what had happened in Russia with Chernobyl and Japan during the recent Earthquake and Tsunami disaster in 2011.

But that was radiation?  What about magnetic energy, the other problematic situation that develops in the film.  No one really thought about it back then, but watching this film…one wonders if it freaked anyone out.

“The Magnetic Monster” is a low budget sci-fi film but because there is no monster that is seen and focuses on the use of science to help viewers understand the risks and seeing how it can affect humanity, Ivan Tors knows how to write that into his films without being too cerebral and making it accessible for viewers.   The special effects may seem cheesy today but I suppose back in 1953, it may have excited some viewers.  And for others, they may have realized that some of the stock footage shown was from the German film “Gold”.

While the film may seem outdated and over-the-top for viewers today, still “The Magnetic Monster” manages to be quite entertaining.  The fact is that Ivan Tors films were intelligent for its time and they may have not have large budgets but somehow they made these films work.   Classic Sci-fi fans may enjoy it, others may find it too farfetched for their tastes, but for what it is…I enjoyed it as a classic ’50s sci-fi film, nothing more and nothing less.






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