On the surface, The Colossus of New York seems like run-of-the-mill dramaturgy. "Evil brain" flicks were a dime a dozen in the 50's. As far as oddly specific trends go, I would compare it to the deluge of "talking vagina" flicks in the 70's (that's an oblique shout-out to The Cinema Snob; someone should force him to read this review). This sci-fi bender borrows from Donovan's Brain and The Brain That Wouldn't Die. A brilliant altruist by the name of Jeremy Spensser (sic) dies an untimely death mere moments after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. His father, a slightly mad neurosurgeon, stores his son's brain in a tank in an effort to preserve the synaptic impulses that made the honorable Dr. Spensser a genius.
What could possibly go wrong? For starters, Dr. Spensser Sr. convinces his other son to help him perform a brain transplant. The idea is to put Jeremy's grey matter into the body of a hulking, unwieldy robot. Naturally, the robot spazzes out, but the transition from "bewildered automaton" to "demented brute" is a smooth one. We see an actual character arc develop. I was ready to write this off as a haggard riff on Frankenstein, but a clever script sets Colossus apart from the garden-variety b-movies that defined this decade. I'm not knocking garden-variety b-movies. Believe me; I live for schlock. I have the posters for Popcorn and The Mole People to prove it.
Now, for a film like this to succeed in entertaining the viewer, the robot needs to look cool. Does our Big Apple-bound humanoid meet those requirements? Fuck. Yes. I don't know why they felt it was necessary to throw a cape around the big lug's shoulders, but it works. Director Eugene Lourie knew exactly how to capture his monster. I adored the shots of the "colossus" rising from a squalid river, and the climax is particularly badass (gotta love those laser beams). By the way, kudos to Olive Films for releasing this rarity and giving it such a crisp transfer. This is a company you will want to keep tabs on.
It goes without saying that I recommend The Colossus of New York, but I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the flaws that tarnish this cult favorite. After all, there are reasons why you probably haven't heard of it. A telepathy subplot is dropped in the second half of the film. Likewise, we learn that Jeremy Bot can hypnotize his victims, but this little tidbit is never explained. It just doesn't go anywhere. The exiguous running time (70 minutes, and that's including the credits) doesn't give the exposition much breathing room, which is a red flag when you're dealing with a story that spans an entire year. Okay, I'm done bitching. Watch this motion picture. It's fun.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:42 PM