No robot monsters here in this 1953 collaboration between Ivan Tors and Curt Siodmak, but there are several machines acting crazy. Less known than the recently restored in 3-D Gog, The Magnetic Monster is the first Tors film about the fictitious Office of Scientific Investigation, a concept that must have seemed close to reality in 1953. Recently released on Blu-Ray by Kino Lorber, it looks wonderful in that old school monochrome way of silvery whites and black ink shadows (along with a fair amount of gray in the middle, I admit).
The Magnetic Monster should get more respect just for starring Richard Carlson, stalwart of fifties SF movies in which he repeatedly plays a wonderfully urbane yet competent scientist hero. It Came From Outer Space and The Creature from the Black Lagoon are the best examples, but Carlson is no less awesomely himself here, all smooth determination in the face of a world-threatening calamity. This lower budget effort brings him together with the movie trope of implying a monster when the money is not there to actually depict it (which Val Lewton did better than anyone), and of using some truly excellent stock footage as another budget fix (from a German silent film with amazing art direction). Throw in a pretty unique concept for the monster (I won’t spoil it), some great sections of contrast-heavy black-and-white visuals, and a bit part with Strother “Failure to Communicate” Martin as a pilot, and there is a lot to enjoy here. If you enjoy this sort of thing–I sure do–then check it out.