SassyFlix | Dr. Cyclops

Dr. Cyclops

  • NR
  • 1940-04-09
  • 01:16:00
6/ 10
40 votes

To assist with his work due to his failing eyesight, renowned biologist Dr. Alexander Thorkel (Albert Dekker) invites two prominent scientists and a mineralogist to his hidden Amazon jungle laboratory. Thorkel remains evasive about the nature of his experiments, and after the team evaluates his bacteria slides, he orders them away. When they refuse, Thorkel and his servant trick them into a chamber where Thorkel shrinks them down to microscopic size, and they escape to the terrifying jungle.


Great Special Effects!

"Dr. Cyclops" was an unusual horror film for its time. It did not use any major stars and was shot in glorious technicolor (unheard of for a film of this type). The plot is a typical "B" movie plot but the special effects and the color photography are what really sets this film apart.

The story involves "Mad Scientist" Dr. Thorkel (Albert Dekker) who summons three scientists (Thomas Coley, Janice Logan, Charles Halton) to his remote South American laboratory to seek their advice on his secret project. Along the way they are forced to bring muleskinner (Victor Kilian) along.

It turns out that the evil doctor has discovered the secret of miniaturization. To prevent them from cashing in on his discovery Thorkel shrinks the three scientists, the muleskinner and nosey local Pedro (Frank Yaconelli) to miniscule size. The rest of the film chronicles their efforts to escape.

The real star of the film are its special effects. Accomplished through a combination of split-screen, rear projection, miniatures and over sized props, the effects are quite convincing for the time. One shot I thought was quite well done was a scene where the evil doctor picks up one of his victims in his hand.

Because most of the budget was spent on color and effects, the quality of the acting suffers. Dekker does OK as the title character (a name given him by his victims because of his failing eyesight). The others are just barely adequate. Veteran Paul Fix, who could have raised the acting up a level, appeared briefly in the opening reel as Thorkel's sceptical assistant.

Underrated,fantastic SciFi.

Right from the start this film has a unique visual style,Art Deco and jungle film,the opening scene is visually stunning,a dark room strobing light and a mysterious figure,it grabbed me right away,and then the striking appearance of Dr Thorkel and his cold,calculating,even murderous intent,all in the name of science,with no boundaries ,it had me interested in the first few minutes. Once the other Biologists arrive in their mistaken belief that Thorkel needed their help in his experiments,their indignation at their mistreatment,it's a great set up for what s to come. I love the scenes of Thorkel in his radiation suit,metallic silver,with that green radiation glow ? I find it visually compelling,a joy to watch,unlike anything else at that time apart from those Fleisher Superman Cartoons... The story is interesting enough,I'm not bored for a second,but it is Thorkel,his character,and the beautiful visuals that surround his actions that I find so enjoyable,and will watch time and time again,he s easily one of the greatest mad scientists on film,I never tire of this movie,entertaining right from the start to the last frame. Fantastic film.

Great Special Effects for a 1940 Movie!

Though similar stories of shrinking people have come up since, the special effects in _Dr. Cyclops_ for a 1940s movie are excellent. I was surprised to notice it was not only a 40s movie, but a 1940 movie, the 40s first year, and I thought it at least from the 1950s. I would not be surprised if it won some awards for special effects in 1940.

The movie also has nuclear science, and it was made before the atomic bomb, another interesting detail. As a matter of fact, later movies which include shrinking people from the 50s actually seemed less technological and do not appear as realistic. _Dr. Cyclops_ seems to have the best special effects for a movie where people get shrunk till at least the 70s, if there were any made after 1970. I guess 1989's _Honey I Shrunk The Kids_ was the first one to appear at least as realistic in my opinion.

Early sci-fi Technicolour extravaganza

Warning: Spoilers

Despite Dr Cylcops being made during the Second World War in 1940, it is beautifully shot in colour and I have a copy of the VHS release which I ordered from the US. An excellent, clear print.

A group of explorers are assigned to go on an expedition into the Amazon Jungle to search for a Doctor who has now gained the nickname Dr Cyclops due to him being partially sighted. He has been in the Jungle for a couple of years, busy doing experiments. They manage to find him and get a hostile reception as he don't want any visitors. He has come up with a way of making living things tiny and we see a horse. The explorers are then miniaturised and face plenty of dangers through this, including a cat, dog, roosters and an alligator. There is also a thunderstorm. After the Doctor kills two of them, the other three try their best to avoid him and the Doctor falls to his death down a mine shaft while looking for the explorers at the end.

This also has excellent, Oscar nominated special effects and a good music score too. Dr Cyclops was directed by King Kong's Ernest B Schoedsack.

The excellent cast includes Albert Dekker in the title role, Janice Logan, Thomas Coley, Frank Reicher (King Kong) and Paul Fix.

Dr Cyclops is essential viewing for all old sci-fi fans. Excellent.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5.

Almost great movie

Warning: Spoilers

Starts off great. Story of a mad South American-located scientist who has figured how to shrink animal--including people. Even has the rarely cancer-chemotherapy element (chemo- had existed since the 1920's but it was just about never talked about in movies of the 30's and 40's) Once they get to his lab and his five guests are shrunken, however, there is really not that much story for about the rest of the movie.

It is however very, very beautifully filmed in technicolor and it has a beautiful leading lady who is given plenty to do. A nearly great film!

Hugely enjoyable 40's mad scientist sci-fi outing

Warning: Spoilers

Brilliant, but deranged physicist Dr. Alexander Thorkel (splendidly played with deliciously wicked relish by Albert Dekker) shrinks his enemies down to miniature size after they take him to task for his unconventional experiments. Director Ernest Schoedsack, working from a taut and engrossing story by Tom Kilpatrick, relates the gripping story at a brisk pace, maintains a generally serious tone throughout, and builds a good deal of suspense and momentum. The bald, burly, and bespectacled Thorkel makes for a marvelously ruthless, haughty, and sinister mad scientist. While Dekker clearly dominates the movie with his sterling performance, his co-stars nonetheless do respectable work in their roles: Charles Halton registers strongly as Torkel's most gutsy and vehement opponent Dr. Rupert Bulfinch, Thomas Coley is likable enough as handsome layabout Bill Stockton, the lovely Janice Logan impresses as the feisty and resourceful Dr. Mary Robinson (and looks quite fetching in her purple toga), and Victor Kilian contributes a solid turn as gruff trail guide Steve Baker. The scenes with the tiny people fending off giant animals and fighting back against Thorkel are extremely tense and exciting. The nifty special effects hold up quite well. Henry Sharp's vivid Technicolor cinematography gives the picture a pleasingly vibrant look. The robust and rousing score by Gerard Carbonara, Ernst Toch, and Albert Hay hits the stirring spot. The tight 77 minute running time ensures that this movie never gets dull or overstays its welcome. An immensely fun film.

"When I find you, I will destroy you!"

Great fodder for late night horror hosts. A mad scientist is on the loose, performing miniaturizing experiments deep in the jungles of Peru. Some fellow scientists are invited to assist him in his mysterious work, and it's pretty obvious what's going to happen to them.

This is one of the earlier science fiction movies, and the "special effects" are certainly primitive by today's standards, but it's a highly re-watchable movie for its novelty value, sparked mostly by a deliciously psycho-sinister characterization by Albert Dekker in the title role. He starts out a paranoid weirdo, jealously guarding his research, and gets more and more bizarre and homicidal as the story progresses.

For its time, the giant sets/forced perspective were probably the main draw of the movie, but the maniacal rants and actions of Dr. Thorkell were what I liked best. After making his rejected guests his first human subjects of the "condenser," it becomes a cat-and-mouse game as the sight-impaired Thorkell decides to exterminate his "little friends." Lines such as "I will find you, and when I find you, I will destroy you!" are frequent.

The story doesn't grow too much beyond that point, but the action scenes are nonetheless still interesting to watch. Worth a look if you can find a copy.

Clever and entertaining early mad-scientist romp

A group of scientists and their out-fitter ('Steve Baker', played by Victor Kilian) travel into the South American rain forest at the request of reclusive, near-blind, Dr. Thorkal (Albert Dekker), who needs assistance with his research. They solve the problems in a few minutes and are offended when Thorkal immediately orders them to leave without telling them about his project. Baker, who suspects the research is a front for a secret mine, stumbles across some pitchblende (uranium ore) and the group confronts Thorkal. The initially hostile and dismissive doctor apologises for his earlier behaviour and agrees to show them his secret project, then tricks them, along with his assistant Pedro (who had earlier stumbled across the truth), into entering his radium-powered miniaturising machine. When they wake up, they are 10 inches tall and prisoners. The script has fun with the "Cyclops" metaphor, with Thorkal as a giant Polyphemus to the shrunken people's Odysseus. The evil doctor's only weakness is his poor vision, and when he is left with only one intact lens in his glasses, he becomes the titular character. The story is entertaining and the miniature people scenes are very well done (the film was nominated for an Oscar for special effects). Dekker, who brings a real malevolence to the otherwise standard mad-scientist character, is excellent and the rest of the cast is fine (for a genre film) although Frank Yaconelli's Mexican stereotype Pedro may grate on modern sensibilities. A bit dated but well made and worth watching for fans of the genre.

1940 Special Effects Extravaganza

A mad biologist happens upon a deposit of uranium in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, and seeks to harness it, in order to miniaturize living things.

But his senses are ailing (or he just wants outside confirmation); so he sends out for help from some of America's most renown experts in the field.

They oblige, and trek deep into the jungle, only to discover that he only wanted their opinions on one simple experiment...after which he promptly asks them to leave.

Angry and insulted, the group investigates a little and discovers he is experimenting with radium. They question him about this, but he is noticeably bothered by their inquiries.

However, he does, eventually, disclose the nature of his experiments to them...but then locks them in the room...and miniaturizes them.

He tries to keep them contained, but they escape...and are slowly growing back to normal size- making them a direct threat to him and his continued work.

Now they are fleeing through the "rainforest", trying to escape, as the mad doctor attempts to hunt them down.

This film is a 1940 special effects extravaganza, with all sorts of fancy uses of the greenscreen, illusory perspective shots (making everything seem large); puppets; and a fine attention to detail when it comes to production and set design.

The plot is pretty straightforward, so you tend to focus mostly on the special effects. Though, I did feel the doctor was adequately mad enough. My only problem with this film is that stupid transition from them escaping, to having seemingly formed their own little civilization, within the span of a nap. That totally ruined the flow...which was good up until then.

The concept is interesting (probably inspired Honey, I Shrunk The Kids), and the special effects are respectable (for the time); but the story is kind of bland. Though you've got to remember that it's from 1940- so it was certainly ahead of it's time.

Enjoyable Technicolor Sci-Fi

Warning: Spoilers

Dr. Alexander Thorkel, a scientist working in the Amazon jungle, has discovered the secrets of miniaturization. He invites a group of scientists to assist him, but quickly dismisses them once he gets what he wants from them. Thinking they are spying on him, Dr. Thorkel turns his radium experiment on the group reducing each to about twelve inches in height. In their current and miniaturized state, Dr. Thorkel becomes the least of their worries as they attempt to make their escape through the jungle.

As I sat and watched Dr. Cyclops for the first time, the thought kept going through my head, "Wow, these are some great effects for the 50s." It would be an understatement to say that I was shocked after the movie ended and I discovered Dr. Cyclops was made in 1940. The special effects are amazing. Sure, modern audiences who prefer soulless CGI may find the effects poor or even comical, but they represent a real craft and workmanship that you don't see much anymore. There's an art to the kind of rear projection, split-screen, and over-sized props found in Dr. Cyclops. So when you combine these ahead of their time special effects with the bright, vibrant, beautiful Technicolor used in the filming of the movie, I think it's understandable to see why I was surprised to discover Dr. Cyclops was made some 67 years ago.

Beyond the effects, Dr. Cyclops moves at a good pace. Although some aspects of the "mini-humans against nature" plot seem cliché today, it held my attention throughout. And, though obviously stage-bound, the sets are more than adequate. On the negative side, the acting is hit or miss at best. While Albert Dekker is more than adequate at playing the subtly sinister title character and Charles Hatton is good as his most capable adversary, Dr. Bullfinch, most of the rest of cast doesn't come across quite so good. I also thought that some of the key plot points were terribly predictable. As an example, from the moment Dr. Thorkel's poor eyesight is made known, is there any doubt this will come into play at some point in the movie? And I can't end this without mentioning the music – it's downright annoying. It's that loopy kind of music I associate with a bad kiddie movie.

Impressive Technicolor Sci-Fi Movie

"Dr. Cyclops" is another of the many movies made in the 30's and 40's that was based on a particularly much-explored genre: the mad scientist genre. Whether it was Boris Karloff in "The Man With Nine Lives" or the many sequels of "Frankenstein", there were always many variations, each one exploring a unique sci-fi topic of some kind. The one particular aspect that makes this one stand out is that it deals with the concept of miniaturization - a seldom explored idea that made its occasional appearances throughout the decades B movies were most prominent. When coming right down to it, "Dr. Cyclops" seems more a fantasy film when one considers the fact that the people are miniature for over two-thirds of the movie; but the science-fiction part is sprinkled in somewhat, if not overly emphasized (as most of the films of this genre tended to do).

The story begins with a group of scientists heading out to meet a Dr. Thorkel in a South American jungle. Once arriving, all three of them (plus the man who rented them the mules who insisted on coming) are disgruntled as the doctor appears to be working on a top-secret project that he will not let them in on knowing. He commands them to leave but, when they begin to snoop through his notes, he tricks them into entering his miniaturization machine which shrinks them to being each about a foot tall. The rest of the film is dependent entirely on how the shrunken scientists must escape from the doctor catching them and survive against the challenges the jungle presents them with. Not very suspenseful or action packed as a movie of today would tend to do, but ending on a good finale that that wraps it up well.

The main nitpick of "Dr. Cyclops" is that as with most sci-fi movies of the period, this one too features a romance - one not particularly well developed and sort of random with only a few brief segments that hint at it. Because it is more about the action than the romance the filmmakers fail to show it blossom in any outright way and seem to forget it as the miniature people survive an alligator, the doctor's cat Satanus, etc. with a romantic bit at the end that hardly feels led up to. Otherwise, the film is shot in a brilliant and fantasy-type technicolor, a rarity for most movies of the 40's, and contains very convincing special effects even when one views them today. An enjoyable film if not as intense as others of the period, and watchable even now with plenty of merits in its execution that cause it to come off very nicely.

Excellent Science Fiction!

It never fails to amaze me when people make short, thoughtless comparisons between the films of yesterday and the films of today. Good films transcend time, regardless of what technical achievements have since been invented, and Dr. Cyclops is just that...a good film. Sure it has outmoded special effects, but those special effects were once highly praised for their uniqueness and creativity. Those special effects were a springboard to other achievements in that technical area. Let's give credit where credit is due and praise this film not for having outmoded effects BUT for having special effects which revolutionized film effects. Enough sermonizing...I know how little good it does. This film tells the story of a mad, a very mad scientist that has discovered the ability to miniaturize things, animals, and even people. Albert Dekker plays easily his finest role as the demented Dr. Cyclops with a real bad sight problem. Dekker's performance is not like your typical raving madman(aka a Lugosi or even early Karloff performance) but more of a subdued evil and obsessive nature. The other actors are adequate and the special effects are wonderful. The film has a good story and I loved the obvious allusion to the mythological Polyphemus, a giant with all the advantages taken "down" by a small, yet brilliant man. This is a thoughtful, interesting, and fun film. Definitely keep more than one eye open when viewing this film!