The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Honey, I shrunk.

I’m known for disliking older movies – just for the sheer idea that they don’t translate well for a modern audience. I can appreciate them as much as the next guy, but there are a good number of people that are used to movies nowadays, and some older movies just don’t work as well as they were supposed to back then. Film appreciation is different than modern entertainment – so how does The Incredible Shrinking Man work nowadays? Honestly? It works really well – but it does have some unmistakable flaws here and there.

The Incredible Shrinking Man centers around our hero, Scott Carey – who after running into a cloud of myst, starts experiencing a phenomenon that begins to make him…shrink. It’s really that simple, he just starts getting smaller, and as that happens, he learns to use his surroundings a little differently to first cope with the change, but coping rapidly turns into a means of survival when he meets creatures that were once harmless, now hunt him as prey.

This is a great classic film for one main reason: it was done really intelligently. I can only think of one reason as to why – it is based off of a novel by Richard Matheson, an author that made a name for himself for writing stories filled with scientific research, realistic human interactions, all blended within the horror genre. This isn’t just a human shrinking, it’s how he reacts to the fact – and how he kind of goes through the stages of grief because his condition is different. What it means to be alone in the world. What kind of unbelievable things you’d be faced with in impossible situations, but survival instincts force you to keep going.

This movie could have done so, so badly – but I’m glad that whoever did it…worked hard on making things look real. There was a lot of practical effects going on every which way. There was a lot of camera trickery and smart props to make sure the audience believed he was getting tiny. It really did look real a lot of the time, even by today’s standards. Now, this is almost 60 years old, so there was still a lot of flaws that they couldn’t avoid.

Not everything looked perfect. There are shots of him walking through town that you could clearly see an outline over his body where he was cut out of frame during shooting. There was also a scene where he talked to a “midget”, and I’m not sure if the director has even ever seen a midget – but if you take a tall and thin actress and digitally make her smaller, but keep all of her dimensions the same – that’s not a midget. The spider in the end was a tense scenario that forces you to think what if, but it was a tarantula. No where in this world is a tarantula a common house spider, unless it got out of its cage. I get it, up close and personal, house spiders look like tarantulas, and maybe that’s true, but I’m not an idiot.

The Good:

Overall, this movie still has an impressive way of still keeping things fresh and new – and it reminds the audience how movies used to be before flashy CGI scenes – you watch this and it’s kind of intense and awe-inspiring at the same time. So what, the cloud sprayed him with glamorous sparkles in the beginning – the rest was mighty interesting.

The Bad:

It shows some signs of aging, mainly the outline that can sometimes be seen over his entire body in certain scenes, as well as the ignorant presentation of what they think a midget looks like. Even The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory did a better job than that.


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