Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Magnetic Monster (1953)

Poster for The Magnetic Monster (1953)The Magnetic Monster (1953) by #CurtSiodmak
#RichardCarlson #KingDonovan #JeanByron

A new radioactive element begins to absorb all of the Earth’s energy.

“The astounding story of the “thing” that came alive!”

“It’s hungry! It has to be fed constantly – or it will reach out its magnetic arm and grab at anything within its reach and kill it. It’s monstrous, Stewart, monstrous. It grows bigger and bigger!”

#Horror #SciFi #NotQuiteClassicCinema

The Magnetic Monster (1953) is the first movie in a trilogy produced by Ivan Tors; the so called “Office of Scientific Investigation” (OSI) trilogy. The other two films in the series are Riders to the Stars (1954) – which I’ve never heard of – and Gog (1954), which I have in my collection (my 3D blu-ray collection!).

When I first heard someone say OSI in The Magnetic Monster, and then further explain that it stands for “Office of Scientific Investigation”, I couldn’t help but think of the band OSI, and I wondered if they had named themselves after this movie. Alas, when I looked them up, this did not seem to be the case. According to Wikipedia:

“The band’s name is a reference to the Office of Strategic Influence, a short-lived American government agency formed in 2001 to support the War on Terror through propaganda.”

Hmmm… Not quite as cool. But still a very cool band. If you’re interested, you can check them out on YouTube.

The plot involves a couple of agents (and scientists) from the OSI who are sent to investigate a rather strange occurrence: all of the metal items in an appliance store have somehow inexplicably become magnetized. They uncover a strange story of a respected scientist conducting an experiment which results in the creation of a “monster”; a radioactive isotope that absorbs all of the energy from everything around it every 11 hours.  And then it grows, doubling in size. If it continues unchecked, it will eventually destroy the entire planet. Or something like that.

It many sound a little strange, but The Magnetic Monster is actually a very unique and entertaining science fiction movie. A tad more cerebral than the typical monster movies of my youth, it came out in 1953, which is a little bit ahead of the curve. It currently has a 5.8 on the IMDb, which is a good, but not great rating. It was written and directed by Curt Siodmak, who wrote a lot of classics like The Wolf Man (1943). It’s to his credit that The Magnetic Monster is a smarter movie than a lot of other low budget horror/science fiction of the day.

Richard Carlson stars as Dr. Jeffery Stewart, and this was his first foray into science fiction and horror films. He later made others like It Came from Outer Space (1953) (I have the 3D blu-ray), The Maze (1953) (I also have a 3D blu-ray), Riders to the Stars (1954), and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) (again, it’s in my 3D blu-ray collection). This begs the question: where is the 3D blu-ray for The Magnetic Monster and/or Riders to the Stars? Sadly, I don’t think those movies were made in 3D…

The Magnetic Monster (1953) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that is better than you might expect it to be. Still, it’s not a masterpiece. Nor is it particularly well known (as evidenced by the fact that I couldn’t interest half as many people on Twitter in this movie, as I did in Pharaoh’s Curse (1957) last week. Spoiler alert: this movie is better). So, “not quite classic” is a fair enough term for The Magnetic Monster. I would recommend that anyone who likes slightly offbeat sci-fi stories should give it a try on their next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.