"To God there is no zero, I still exist."
In the 1950's, the one director that was successful in making horror movies would be Jack Arnold. Some of his most successful films in that decade include It Came From Outer Space, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Tarantula. But the film I'm about to review, 1957's The Incredible Shrinking Man, is probably his most famous.
After unintentionally catching some harmful radioactive rays during a boating vacation, Scott Carey (Grant Williams) soon discovers that he is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. Eventually, he gets so small that he gets to be famous and develops a hatred for everyone, including his wife (Randy Stuart). After being attacked by the family cat, Scott ends up in the basement, causing his wife and brother (Paul Langton) to believe the cat killed him. Scott must use his small height and small knowledge to survive in the basement, especially when there's a tarantula intending to eat him.
One of the problems with Jack Arnold's films is a lack of good character development, with It Came From Outer Space being the worst offender. The Incredible Shrinking Man, however, surprised me in the fact that the character development, particularly in the shrinking man, is actually well-developed. Grant Williams did a fairly good job at doing the role, and some moments come out as chilling, particularly in scenes where he questions his existence.
The special effects are terrific for a film made in the 50's, especially scenes where Williams is shrinking. When he gets to be super small, you think that he was really that small. Other highlights in the visuals include the attack scene with the cat (which I found to be unintentionally funny) and a climatic battle with a tarantula. Believe it or not, this tarantula used was the same one Arnold used before in his film Tarantula.
The last thing I have to mention is the surprise ending. After loads of sci-fi and horror, in the end of the film, the film questions the existence of life. Without getting too preachy, the speech Williams makes in the end is a surprising and excellent way to end a horror/sci-fi film.
While I still prefer Tarantula to be the essential Jack Arnold film, The Incredible Shrinking Man is still an entertaining and visually incredible 50's classic.