Doctor Cyclops is definitely a film that I had never heard of before watching it. Any film with the term doctor at the beginning is a cause for concern though, particularly if it is a horror film. While the overall premise isn’t bad, the execution certainly is and the film doesn’t do anything particularly impressive or amazing. It’s just around and you’ll find that it never got popular for good reason.
The film starts off with two scientists arguing and you can tell which one is the evil one instantly as he rambles on about how he is the master and the experiments must go on. The other scientist likely never actually got accredited as he doesn’t seem very smart and threatens the man to his face. He is quickly murdered but Doctor Cyclops injured his eyes in the process. He decides to enlist the aid of famous scientists from out of state to see if they can help him fix his formula since the animals he has been shrinking don’t tend to last very long. The scientists arrive and Cyclops is able to get his answers without letting them know why he needs the info. They aren’t pleased about this and then find out that the camp has been built on a rich deposit of ore so they can all become millionaires. After figuring out that they can’t trick each other they decide to team up against Cyclops but are quickly suckered and put in their place. By that I mean that they have been shrunk to size. So…now what are they going to do?
One big issue I have with the film out of the gate is that the writers don’t seem to know what effects being turned into a tiny person would have on the individual. At first it seems as if their minds regressed thanks to the transformation. They effectively became cave people and communicate with gestures. They also have short term memory as they start cooking and having a picnic in the backyard even though the villain will have woken up from his nap pretty soon. They are evidently shocked to see him. I’m fine with their minds being reverted but then the film does a 180 as the scientist in the hero’s side confronts Cyclops and begins to speak. The film makes it clear that he had not lost any intelligence at all. Then the others begin speaking and keeping their personalities by the end as well. One theory could be that they were just temporarily dazed and obtained their memories again after a little time had passed unfortunately this doesn’t really work either since the scenes I listed above are not in order: In the movie it is all random and that’s why this element is rather confusing. I just don’t think it was thought over very carefully which is a bit of an issue since it’s the entire plot of the film.
Naturally I also have to get after the film on the animal violence side as well. While it is off screen, the film makes sure to inform us that a lot of animals were experimented on and died. Certainly a morbid thought and this is repeated a few times which does nothing to help matters. It’s why I am always wary of films with evil scientists since the animals are always used as guinea pigs. It is certainly most unfortunate and at least it gives you more reason to root against Cyclops. He is about as generic as a villain can get. He’s evil and wants to hog the experiments to himself. The thrill and feeling of power is really all that he cares about since he could get rich simply by selling the ore that is around. He also isn’t very smart either as he falls asleep quite a few times and constantly lets the heroes get away. I don’t know about you guys but if I up against a small group of mini humans who were this tiny it should be really easy to capture them all and build a little cage to keep them captive. It’s not rocket science but this doctor just continues to get humiliated throughout this movie. He makes the whole thing appear to be far more difficult than it really is.
As for the “heroes” there are 4 main characters. First we have the really laid back guy who thinks getting upset or emotional about anything is a waste of time. He prides himself on doing whatever he likes and working smarter, not harder. He is fairly confident as you’d expect and I would say he is the most interesting character in the film. Certainly the most generic but at least he isn’t bad. You may not be actively rooting for him but at least this guy doesn’t take things too seriously. The old scientist is certainly the opposite as he is very serious and likes taking credit for things like new discoveries even if it has likely already been discovered. He isn’t a bad character though as the writing in the film is pretty solid so he isn’t as two dimensional as he could have been.
We also have the main heroine who has a science background as well. She wants this trip to go well since she’s responsible for the team but they don’t make it very easy on her. She’s a good character and it’s always nice to see a heroine from this era who is useful and able to stand on her own as opposed to being a damsel in distress. Finally we have the guy who owns the horses. His whole gimmick is that he isn’t very smart compared to the other characters but he is street smart, except for when he isn’t. He is a nice contrast to the other characters and definitely a pretty fun one.
As you can probably tell, the only thing really keeping this film standing is the writing and the cast. That’s honestly not half bad if you think about it since those two areas are very important. Still, the animal aspects hold this film back and Doctor Cyclops is an underwhelming villain. The main characters also really aren’t smart which makes it a little hard to root for them. They fall for one of the most obvious traps that I have ever seen. Also it’s not as if they are very heroic. As I mentioned earlier they were prepared to betray each other over the money so there goes their values.
Overall, Doctor Cyclops certainly isn’t one of the worst films that I’ve seen but it just could have been so much better. The writers did out some effort into this film, the problem was that if was selective effort so while the dialogue is strong, the situations around the lines are rather weak. I would advise sitting this one out. There’s no real reason to watch the movie as there are many other films which handle the concept better. Watch a classic like Honey I Shrunk The Kids instead. That film is a lot better if I recall correctly.