THe inCreDiBLe sHrinKing man
released 13 NOVeMBer 1957 | PG | Blu-ray
Director Jack arnold Cast Grant Williams, randy stuart, april Kent, Paul langton
Blu-Ray deBut An ominous white cloud swells behind the title credits of The Incredible Shrinking Man. It’s there on the horizon as this “strange, almost unbelievable story” begins, far out to sea but moving at speed, Atomic Age fear made tangible for all its billowing, spectral insubstantiality. This is a Universal horror but the old horrors are gone, entombed in the time before Oppenheimer’s calculations. Science – capricious, amoral – is the new, infinitely more terrifying monster.
Adapted by genre king Richard Matheson from his own novel, this is a film that sweats a uniquely ’50s paranoia. The carnival-tent title sells the high concept: that mysterious cloud delivers a “deadly chemical reversal of the growth process” on everyman protagonist Scott Carey. Soon our downsized hero is battling for survival in “a basement universe”, wielding a needle against a spider.
The effects still impress, an inventive blend of split-screen, trick angles and oversized props. But it’s the doomy, existential tone that makes this a classic. Literally losing status in a post-war land of plenty, the Shrinking Man becomes so small he slips through the cracks of the American Dream itself.
Extras An erudite, informed audio commentary by fantasy film historian Tim Lucas; “Auteur On The Campus: Jack Arnold At Universal”: an extended, wellresearched documentary; “There Is No Zero: Writing The Shrinking Man”: an in-depth conversation with Richard Christian Matheson, son of the writer; a Super 8 version: yes, relive Arnold’s masterpiece in living-room-o-vision; trailer and teaser trailer.
Matheson wrote an unmade sequel called The Fantastic Shrinking Girl, with Carey’s wife going on a rescue mission.
Sometimes a glass and some paper just won’t do.