As opposed to a gigantic monster terrorizing the city, "The Magnetic
Monster" deals with a radioactive element that gains energy from
appliances surrounding it and will not stop doubling in size. As you
can tell, this is one of the more intellectual concepts for a b-movie
of the time. It's certainly not "2001", but its quite refreshing to see
a scientifically accurate film from a period not exactly renowned for
such. The concept and jargon used (not to mention the lack of any real
monster) is probably what spelled doom for this film. If you are a fan
of vintage science fiction short stories from the 40s and 50s, seeking
this rarity out is recommended as it captures the atmosphere of a good
"Amazing Stories" magazine.
The film itself is far from flawless. The comic relief characters are unfunny and generally annoying, but fortunately sparse. The stock footage from a German film entitled "Gold" is certainly fascinating, but slightly erroneous. The twist of one of the characters going insane towards the end seems to be only an excuse to pad out time by using more footage.
On the other hand, there are many positive aspects which make me wish this film was more fondly remembered. Richard Carlson was always a fine leading man, intelligent and likable. Its a shame he never got any major roles outside of drive-in flicks. And as I stated above, the screenplay is one of the most intelligent and scientifically accurate of the period. If this one pops up on TV you may as well check it out. (6/10)
The Magnetic Monster
Action / Sci-Fi
The Magnetic Monster
Action / Sci-Fi
Open sceneJeffery Stewart (Richard Carlson) narrates We see an oscillating light wave. The narrator explains that new danger faces man, sound waves that kill, atomic isotopes searing flesh, even pilotless planes that break the sound barrier. To combat these threats a new agency has been created, The Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) the men who work for this agency are known as A men. They are detectives for science.July 18 Stewart kisses his wife, Connie (Jean Byron) good bye at the front gate of the agency. Connie reminds Stewart she has a doctors appointment. She is 4 months pregnant and concerned about how little weight she has gained. Reaching his office Stewart meets Dr Dan Forbes (King Donovan). Forbes alerts him about strange air samples he has received. They seem to be indicating a climbing radiation level despite the last local atomic test being months ago.At a local appliance store Mr Simons (Byron Foulger) is disciplining one of his employees, Albert because all the clocks in the show room are set to the wrong time. Albert is puzzled till he sees the electric clocks are also wrong. In another part of the store an assistant reports all the pots and pans have been magnetized. Then without warming a selection of appliances begin operating randomly. Simons becomes frantic and convinced someone has attacked the store with magnetic power and contacts the authorities.The power company representative Chief Watson (John Zaremba) contacts the OS after speaking to Simons and advises them of events in store. Forbes and Stewart investigate and begin a number of tests to establish what the source of the magnetism. They pin down the source to one of the upper floors and also begin to detect radiation.A decision is made to seal off the whole block while the ISO continue to investigate. On the upper floor they find very high radiation counts and laboratory assistant whos died from radiation poisoning. From the other evidence found in the room Forbes fears someone might be trying to build a small atomic bomb.Stewart decides the first thing they need to do is identify the element that was kept in the container. They send all their findings to Washington for input to the Brain, a computer linked to other machines in the MANIAC network. The computer is unable to identify the element, triggering a city wide alert. Any sort of magnetic phenomena or communication outage is to reported immediately.The ISO quickly becomes inundated with reports; however none seem fit the bill. Forbes contacts Washington and is advised no radioactive material is missing. Finally a potential lead appears when a taxi driver calls because his car has gone dead and his screwdriver is sticking to the motor. Another call comes in from the airport advising all their radar has failed. Forbes connects the two incidents and believes this is the break they needed.Stewart interviews the taxi driver getting details of the fare the driver had picked up. He describes an old man carrying a heavy case and extremely nervous. Stewart believes the man has already flown out and begins checking flight times to pinpoint where the man has gone. There is concern that the contents in the case could cause plane engines to fail.Various planes land around the country, and the possible flights get narrowed to one. The passenger is identified as Howard Denker (Leonard Mudie), who is a research physicist at South Western. On board the plane Denker is in a bad way, suffering from the radiation being emitted. The hostess on the flight becomes concerned and goes to report to the pilot. While in the cockpit she hears the warning from traffic control about the engines.As predicted the starboard engine fails, and the plane turns around. Stewart instructs the pilot he needs to isolate the bag at the back of the plane to save the engines from further malfunctions. Having followed Stewarts instructions the flight returns safely.Having secured the bag Stewart interviews a clearly distressed Denker. Denker admits stealing the material from his lab and taking it to a new site to conduct private experiments. The material originally in the bag was selenium and the element has been modified by bombarding it for 200 hours with alpha waves.With virtually his last breath Denker explains that an electrical charge needs to be run through the element or it will begin to expand exponentially. And anyone who gets too close during these expansions will be killed.Delivering this information, Denker dies.Stewart arranges for the material to be transferred to a special case, and then transported by a lead lined car to the cyclotron at State University. Having done all he could, Stewart returns to Connie. He asks how the appointment went with the doctor, she explains that he seemed happy with the development, and there is nothing to worry about.Stewart is called while at home, theres been an explosion at the University, and a number of scientists have been killed. Stewart is ordered to report in because the selenium was the source of the explosion. Later that day at a conference it is noted the material didnt explode, but imploded, drawing the walls in. One of the scientists noted when this happened the material doubled in size and briefly lost its radiation.Examining a sample of the material under an electron microscope they discover that the molecules are growing, doubling their size every 4 seconds Stewart observes that matter is being created from energy, the moment of creation. Continued testing on the sample shows its unstable nature, this thought to be a line of research that might find a way to isolate and control the element.Their findings are fed to the MANIAC system, which deduces the element will double in size every 11 hours. Hearing this Stewart arranges to relocate the material to a more secure location in Nova Scotia.The Canadians have a deltatron located at the bottom of a 1700 foot shaft. The material is to be contained there in the hope it will slow its development. They meet Doctor Benton (Leo Brit) who wants to know what the plan is. Stewart wants to try and over feed the element, and try and make it choke on the influx of energy. He admits if the plan fails, he basically has nothing.Benton wants to know just how much energy Stewart needs. When shown the figures he is stunned but also concerned for the safety of the personnel at the installation. Stewart is going to control the experiment himself. It could mean his death but he sees no other way.Stewart starts the machine bringing it up to maximum capacity, having ordered the crew to leave he evacuates himself. Benton is furious and sabotages a series of floodgates needed to keep everyone safe. Stewart abandons the machine and begins leading the men to safety despite the machine maximum capacity.Stewart manages to get the floodgates closed as the machine explodes avoiding flooding the installation. At first it appears the element has absorbed all the energy and the whole area is magnetized. Despondent Stewart wonders what to do next.Behind the team they hear a loud thud as a previously magnetized piece of equipment falls to the floor. With renewed hope they check the chamber containing the element. To their surprise all radiation and magnetism has dissipated.Days later the Stewarts move into their new home, Mrs Stewart is now clearly showing her pregnancy and Jeff ponders the value of becoming a proud dad.
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