Reviewed by Galen Strickland
I have not seen this film for several years so this review will be short and simple. It recently ran on Turner Classic Movies but unfortunately I forgot about it and didn't tape it or have the opportunity to watch it when it was broadcast. [And now, years after I wrote that it is on DVD and I still haven't got it yet. I should at least rent it from Netflix to see if my opinion of it has changed.]
There are a few elements about the film that are quite hokey by today's standards, not the least of which are some of the performances and the dialogue. Even though a remake is arguably long overdue (and it has been talked about for several years), the special effects are still quite impressive considering when the film was made - 1956 - and were unsurpassed in the genre for twelve years until the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. It did the story no harm that it was almost a straight adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (hey, if you're gonna steal, steal from the best). Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) is Shakespeare's Prospero, and his daughter Altaira (Anne Francis) is Miranda. There are two separate characters who can be considered to be Caliban, the first being the starship captain portrayed by Leslie Nielsen, the other the special effects creation of the "monster from the id." I cannot recall the producer(s) or company responsible, but whoever it was made a wise decision for the effects of the "monster" to be animated by the Walt Disney Studios. Considering the quality of the sets and models, it would have been unfortunate if they had attempted to portray this menace by some mechanical means.
Peter Nicholls, in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, decribed it thus: "Despite it's flaws, it remains one of the few masterpieces of sf cinema." I agree, and I give it ***½ out of five, and would classify it as the best SF film of the '50s.
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