Review: ‘Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman’

Filmed in Southern California by HBO Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Joseph Dougherty; producer, Debra Hill; co-producers, Chuck Binder, Daryl Hannah; director, Christopher Guest; script, Joseph Dougherty, based on a screenplay by Mark Hanna; Fifties programmer is brought into the world of '90s cable for HBO's "Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman." Though world wasn't exactly clamoring for a remake, director Christopher Guest, scripter Joseph Dougherty, Daryl Hannah and rest of cast and crew turn in a decent show with occasional hints of higher aspirations.

Filmed in Southern California by HBO Pictures in association with Warner Bros. Television. Executive producer, Joseph Dougherty; producer, Debra Hill; co-producers, Chuck Binder, Daryl Hannah; director, Christopher Guest; script, Joseph Dougherty, based on a screenplay by Mark Hanna; Fifties programmer is brought into the world of ’90s cable for HBO’s “Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman.” Though world wasn’t exactly clamoring for a remake, director Christopher Guest, scripter Joseph Dougherty, Daryl Hannah and rest of cast and crew turn in a decent show with occasional hints of higher aspirations.

(Original, directed by Nathan Hertz Juran, starred Allison Hayes, William Hudson and Yvette Vickers).

Nancy Archer (Hannah) expands to several times her (already quite impressive) height, thanks to rays from flying saucer; she then wreaks vengeance upon philandering hubby Harry (Daniel Baldwin).

Growth comes fast; fortunately, Nancy lives in a two-story house. How she’s moved to nearby stable without major reconstruction on home to allow her exit is never explained.

Tone of Dougherty’s script (loosely adapted from Mark Hanna’s original) varies, pretending to take subject quite seriously at first and playing it for laughs as story progresses. Best jokes in first reels are fairly subtle: for example, the throwaway shot of 18-wheelers delivering cosmetics and Summer’s Eve to the protracted heroine.

As film climaxes, Nancy, “looking for a little closure,” seeks Harry, tramping through town, Godzilla-like, as crowds mill in streets beneath her. Modernized conclusion finds Harry meeting a bunch of spacemen who have evidently been spending too much time watching intergalactic broadcasts of Sally Jessy Raphael.

Nancy and her shrink, Dr. Cushing (Frances Fisher), are strong characters, but other femme roles, including tomboy deputy (Victoria Haas) and Harry’s mistress, Honey (Christi Conaway) don’t burst any B-movie stereotypes. Acting is consistent with movie’s origins.

Special effects under visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr. are fine — leagues ahead of the original, of course, though inconsistent use of miniatures and forced perspective results in Nancy’s apparent height increasing or diminishing from scene to scene.

Film clocks in at snappily paced 90 minutes; black-and-white 1958 version timed in at even snappier 65 minutes.

Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman

Production

HBO, Sat. Dec. 11, 8 p.m.

Crew

Camera, Russell Carpenter; editor, Harry Keramidas; sound, Robert Anderson Jr.; music, Nicholas Pike; production designer, Joseph T. Garrity; visual effects supervisor, GeneWarren Jr.

With

Cast: Daryl Hannah, Daniel Baldwin, William Windom, Christi Conaway, Frances Fisher, O'Neal Compton, Victoria Haas, Paul Benedict, Lewis Arquette, Kye Benson , Xander Berkeley, Linda Bisesti, Hamilton Camp, Ben Cleaveland, Richard Edson, George Gerdes, Dru Mouser, Stephen Rowe, Edmund L. Shaff, Hilary Shepard, Hank Stratton, Berta Waagfjord, Barry Watson, Scott Williamson, Maud Winchester, Rawn Hutchinson.
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