Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a 1958 American low-budget science fiction feature film produced by Bernard Woolner for Allied Artists Pictures. It was directed by Nathan H. Juran (credited as Nathan Hertz) from a screenplay by Mark Hanna, and starred Allison Hayes, William Hudson and Yvette Vickers. The original music score was composed by Ronald Stein. The film was a take on other movies that had also featured size-changing humans, namely The Amazing Colossal Man and The Incredible Shrinking Man, but substituting a woman as the protagonist instead of a man. The story concerns the plight of a wealthy heiress whose close encounter with an enormous alien being causes her to grow into a giantess.
A television announcer reports sightings of a red fireball around the world. Facetiously, he calculates its path will lead it to California. Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes), a wealthy but highly troubled woman with a history of emotional instability and immoderate drinking, is driving on a road in an American desert that night. A glowing sphere settles on the deserted highway in front of her, causing her to veer off the road. When she gets out to investigate, a huge creature exits the object and reaches for her (the viewer sees only the shadow of an enormous hand falling upon the screaming woman). Nancy escapes and runs back to town, but nobody believes her story due to her known drinking problem and recent stay in a sanatorium. Her philandering husband, Harry Archer (William Hudson), is more interested in his latest girlfriend, town floozy Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers), but pretends to be the good husband in the hope that Nancy will "snap" and return to the "booby hatch", leaving him in control of her $50 million.
Nancy bargains with Harry, asking him to search the desert with her for the "flying satellite," agreeing to a voluntary return to the sanatorium if they find no evidence. As night falls, they find the spacecraft. The alien creature, now seen as an enormous male humanoid, emerges. Harry fires his pistol at it, but the gunfire has no effect on the creature. Harry flees, leaving Nancy behind.
Nancy is later discovered on the roof of her pool house, but is delirious and must be sedated by her family physician, Dr. Cushing (Roy Gordon). The doctor comments on some scratches he finds on Nancy's neck, and theorizes that she was exposed to radiation. Harry, egged on by his venal mistress Honey, plans to inject Nancy with a lethal dose of her sedative, but when he sneaks up to her room, he discovers that she has grown into a giantess. (In a scene paralleling that of Nancy's first encounter with the alien, the viewer sees only an enormous prop hand as the film characters react in horror.) Cushing and Dr. Von Loeb, a specialist he has called in, are at a loss how to treat their patient. They keep her in a coma with morphine and restrain her with chains while waiting for the authorities. The sheriff and Jess (Ken Terrell), Nancy's faithful butler, track enormous footprints leading away from the estate to the alien sphere. Inside the sphere, they find Nancy's diamond necklace (containing the largest diamond in the world) and other large diamonds, each in a clear orb. They speculate that the jewels are being used as a power source for the alien ship. The huge alien reappears, and the sheriff and Jess flee.
Meanwhile, the gigantic Nancy awakens and breaks free of her restraints. She tears off the roof of her mansion and, clothed in a bikini-like arrangement of bed linens, makes her way to town, to avenge herself on her unfaithful husband. When she rips the roof off the bar to get at Harry, she spots Honey. She drops a ceiling beam on her rival, killing her. Harry panics, grabs Deputy Charlie's gun, and begins shooting, but she picks Harry up and walks away. Gunshots have no apparent effect on her. The sheriff fires a riot gun, which causes a nearby power line transformer to blow up, killing Nancy. The doctors find Harry lying dead in her hand.
The film ends with the presence of the alien sphere and its huge passenger unresolved and unexplained.
Allison Hayes as Nancy Fowler Archer
William Hudson as Harry Archer
Yvette Vickers as Honey Parker
Roy Gordon as Dr. Isaac Cushing
George Douglas as Sheriff Dubbitt
Ken Terrell as Jess Stout
Otto Waldis as Dr. Heinrich Von Loeb
Eileen Stevens as Nurse
Michael Ross as Tony the Bartender / Space Giant
Frank Chase as Deputy Charlie
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 75% based on reviews from 12 critics. The website reported the critical consensus as "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman may well be one of the worst science-fiction films of all time, but that's not to say that it isn't thoroughly enjoyable.
Remakes and sequels
With its low budget — the film was made for around $88,000 — Attack of the 50 Foot Woman made enough money to prompt discussion of a sequel. According to producer Jacques Marquette, the sequel was to be produced at a higher budget, and in color. A script was also written, though the project never advanced beyond the discussion phase.
In the mid-1980s, filmmaker Jim Wynorski was considering a remake of the 1958 movie, with Sybil Danning in the title role. Wynorski made it as far as a shooting a photo session with Danning dressed as the 50 foot woman but, again, the project never materialized, as Wynorksi opted to film the 1988 remake of Not of This Earth instead.
The film was finally remade in a 1993 HBO movie, Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman. The film, directed by Christopher Guest with a script by Thirtysomething scribe Joseph Dougherty, starred Daryl Hannah in the title role.
In 1995, Fred Olen Ray produced a parody entitled Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold, starring J. J. North and Tammy Parks. Beyond the basic premise, the plot had little in common with the original movie, being concerned with the side-effects of a beauty-enhancing formula on two ambitious female models. The movie was deliberately farcical and made on an extremely low budget; the illusion of size-difference was achieved using forced perspective, unlike the earlier movies which used composite imaging.
In late 2011, Roger Corman and his New Horizon company produced a 3D film called Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader, it was released in August 25, 2012. The film was written by Mike MacLean (who also penned Sharktopus for Corman) and directed by Kevin O'Neill. The film stars Jena Sims, a former Miss Teen Georgia, in the title role Cassie Stratford, and Olivia Alexander as Sims' rival Brittany Andrews.
In popular culture
The 1987 TMNT cartoon episode "Attack of the 50 Foot Irma" (1989) includes a similar plot, where April's friend Irma is hit by a beam, created from a meteorite crashing to Earth, and turns into a giant woman and ends up chased by the authorities.
Planet 51 makes a reference: when the military police were going through books on how to treat aliens there is a book stating "Invasion of 50ft Women.
Clips from the movie are spoofed in the music video for Neil Finn's 1998 single "She Will Have Her Way".
Various animated television series have referenced the film, usually in episodes which involve a female character becoming giant-sized. For example, Challenge of the Superfriends from 1978 features the origins of superhero Apache Chief and supervillainess Giganta.
The TV sitcom Night Court referenced the movie when the attorney Dan Fielding is approached by a defendant, a tall and imposing female circus performer; intimdated, he retreats to ask two other characters if they'd seen that movie.
Various Clips from the movie were featured in the original opening sequence of WPIXs Chiller Theatre in the 1960s, including the classic goof where one brand of car is picked up by the giant alien and another brand of car, apparently a "Woody" is thrown into a ditch.
Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" book Moving Pictures climaxes with a giant, 50 foot woman carrying a screaming ape up a tall tower. This is also an inversion of the ending of King Kong, with flying wizards on broomsticks taking the place of the aeroplanes.
The film was also homaged in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers#13, a story entitled Attack of the Fifty-Foot Girl!, spotlighting Avengers member Giant-Girl. the cover of this issue was also based upon the movie's poster.
The 2004 PlayStation 2 videogame The Daibijin (The Gigantic Beauty) faithfully follows the film's original premise when japanese idol Riho Futaba becomes a giantess after being attacked by a crab-like alien.
In the episode of Johnny Bravo "Jumbo Johnny", the film was shown in a cinema while 2 guys complained about it before Johnny squished them.
In the 2009 film Monsters vs. Aliens, Reese Witherspoon's character Susan Murphy (aka Ginormica) was inspired by this film. Ginormica was, originally, exactly 50 feet.
In the 1988 cult classic film Saturday the 14th Strikes Back, the oldest sister Linda Baxter, played by Julianne McNamara, becomes a 50 foot woman and is stuck inside her house.
An episode of Totally Spies! titled "Attack of the 50 Foot Mandy" features Mandy as a giantess. The episode also features a scene that closely resembles the movie poster from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. But however she ends up getting eliminated at the end of the episode.
In the special of "Total Drama Action" titled "Celebrity Manhunt's Total Drama Action Reunion Special" shows a poster with Izzy parodying the titular character.
An episode of "Spongebob Squarepants" named "Giant Squidward" shows Spongebob and Patrick turning Squidward into a giant.
The cover of a 2010 Mother Jones issue parodies the movie by depicting Sarah Palin as the titular character.
An episode of Archie's Weird Mysteries titled "Attack of the 50 Foot Veronica" features Veronica Lodge as a giantess.
The album The Completion Backward Principle by The Tubes has a song called "Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman".
The album You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into by Does It Offend You, Yeah? has a song called "Attack of the 60 Foot Lesbian Octopus".
In a 2012 Elle magazine spread featuring television actresses portraying horror movie characters, Glee co-star Dianna Agron posed as the 50 Foot Woman.
The opening track of the 2012 Album Bang! Is This Your Vehicle Sir? by British songwriter and comedian, Boothby Graffoe (comedian), is entitled "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" and consists of a comic account of the film.
The 2012 Nintendo games Pokemon Black and White 2 have a movie making sidequest, and one of the films which can be made is based on the 50 foot Woman.
The original Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was released on DVD by Warner Bros. on June 26, 2007. It was also available in a Warner Bros. three disc box set titled Cult Camp Classics 1: Sci-Fi Thrillers, which included the films Giant Behemoth and Queen of Outer Space. The DVD includes an audio commentary with co-star Yvette Vickers and interviewer Tom Weaver. The DVDs are officially out of print. On September 20, 2011, Warner Bros. added it to the Warner Archive collection; the content is the same as the previous DVD release. Warner Bros. has yet to announce a Blu-ray release.