Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Dennis Seuling
  • Review Date: Jan 03, 2023
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Blu-ray Review)


Nathan H. Juran

Release Date(s)

1958 (December 6, 2022)


Woolner Bros/Allied Artists (Warner Archive Collection)
  • Film/Program Grade: C
  • Video Grade: B-
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (Blu-ray)



Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a low-budget sci-fi film with a catchy title and a poster that promises a gigantic, scantily-clad woman straddling a freeway and plucking cars up like toys. While the film does have the magnified woman, it has no such scene and offers strictly low-rent special effects.

The woman in question, Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes), is a wealthy alcoholic recently released from a sanitarium. Nancy knows that her husband, Harry (William Hudson), is stepping out with gold-digging floozy Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers). Harry and Honey plan how to get rid of Nancy permanently so they can live happily ever after on Nancy’s fortune.

Because Nancy’s drinking is well known in town, no one believes her when she claims to have been attacked on the highway by a huge alien (Michael Ross). Nancy has a second encounter with the desert alien and absorbs enough radiation to cause her to grow to enormous proportions. Yet we only see a giant groping hand, with various characters overacting to her size. Somehow, she still manages to fit into her bedroom, imprisoned with chains. When she figures out that she can easily break free, she sets out to exact vengeance on her philandering husband and his mistress.

At just over an hour, the film devotes its first half hour to the marital problems of Nancy and Harry and scenes of Harry and Honey hanging out in the local tavern, brazenly drinking and smooching. These scenes drag.

Containing some of the worst special effects in films of the 1950s, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman makes the giant Nancy and the alien appear inexplicably translucent. The alien’s conveyance looks like an inflated white balloon, its interior a set of peg boards, distorting fish bowls, and mist. In a nod to King Kong, a giant hand suggests Nancy’s monstrous size, and lots of low angles are used to shoot Nancy with miniature sets against a black background, creating a not-believable illusion that she is enormous.

Director Nathan Juran (billed in the credits as Nathan Hertz) is hampered by a small budget, making the effects laughable and perhaps part of the film’s campy appeal. His abilities were shown as art director of John Ford’s How Green Was My Valley and as director of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and he gives the film his best shot, considering its minuscule budget.

Despite the poor effects, Juran elicits pretty good performances, especially from Vickers who turns in a natural portrayal as a sexpot home wrecker. Hayes conveys a neurotic, clinging personality as Nancy and manages to elicit sympathy, but later, wandering the desert, calling out for Harry and, as a giant, intent on finding Harry and Honey with the dedication of a bounty hunter, she’s simply the victim of a dopey script. Supporting actors play it straight, trying to elude Nancy’s obviously fake monster hand, looking up in horror, and fleeing in panic from her wrath.

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was shot by director of photography Jacques R. Marquette on 35 mm black-and-white film, finished photochemically, and presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Warner Archive’s Blu-ray release is sourced from a new 4K scan of the original camera negative. Both Hayes and Vickers are photographed attractively before Nancy becomes gigantic. Both have smooth complexions and tasteful make-up. A tawdry, cheap look is avoided for Honey. Detail is very good, with jewels on Nancy’s dress, furnishings in her house, a giant footprint, and a series of image-distorting globes nicely delineated. The visual quality suffers from substandard special effects. The giants are translucent and Nancy walking through the desert fails to inspire fear. Debris crashes down as Nancy angrily destroys the bar seeking Harry and Honey Parker.

The soundtrack is English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio. English SDH subtitles are an available option. Dialogue is clear and precise throughout, and though there’s a lot of mayhem, it’s never obscured. A brief jitterbug dance by Honey and Sheriff’s Deputy Charlie livens up an otherwise slow scene. Ronald Stein’s score contributes a great deal of atmosphere with ominous chords, particularly when giant Nancy is on the prowl. A fight between Harry and Nancy’s loyal butler contains sounds of fists hitting faces, bodies being pummeled, bodies hitting the floor, and furnishings breaking. When Nancy breaks out of her bedroom, she crashes through the roof and when she attacks the bar, she smashes the roof to get to Harry and Honey. Wood breaking, debris falling, patrons screaming in panic, and Nancy’s loud voice are blended to create a harmony of chaos.

Bonus materials include the following:

  • Audio Commentary with Yvette Vickers and Tom Weaver
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:53)

Film historian Tom Weaver and actress Yvette Vickers conduct a pleasant, informative look at the film. Known as “One-take Vickers,” she notes that “spontaneity was everything” and speaks about enjoying the fast pace of B-movie and TV production as opposed to the slower shooting of A-list features. She notes that Attack of the 50 Foot Woman was filmed on an 8-day schedule. The small budget resulted in poor special effects, which Allied Artists wasn’t happy with, but when Juran asked for an additional $10,000 to $15,000 to improve them, he was refused and the picture was released as is. Vickers mentions that all of the clothes worn in the film are her own. The actor who played the alien, Michael Ross, also played Tony, the bartender. Vickers and Hayes had the same agent and were friends. Vickers and Weaver comment on the quality of the score by Ronald Stein. Vickers enjoyed playing a “bad girl,” though some people really believed she was a husband stealer. Vickers discusses her career, which started as a dancer. Her appearance in a White Rain shampoo commercial resulted in her getting a lot of work. She appeared on the series Dragnet, as well as Tales of Wells Fargo, and The Rebel, among others. She also appeared in the only film that James Cagney ever directed, Shortcut to Hell, auditioned for major films, and eventually went to New York to appear in The Gang’s All Here on Broadway. About Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Vickers says “It’s almost better than if they had the money to improve it.” About films in general, she notes, “You never know what the audience will pick up on.”

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is the kind of film that’s so bad, it’s fun. It certainly is entertaining, and its length is perfect if you’re looking for an hour’s worth of never-intended laughs.

- Dennis Seuling