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Film / Attack of the 50-Foot Woman

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The citizens below are either fleeing in terror, or enjoying the view.

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman is a 1958 American black-and-white Science Fiction film directed by Nathan Juran (credited as Nathan Hertz), which acts as something of a Distaff Counterpart to The Amazing Colossal Man. One of the classic B-Movies, it is well remembered for its rather silly premise, as well as being a rather large source of Fanservice, and was remade for HBO in 1993, directed by Christopher Guest.

The basic plot: Nancy Archer (Allison Hayes), a rich California woman with a drinking problem and a cheating husband, has a close encounter with aliens while driving out in the desert. Attempting to convince her skeptical husband Harry (William Hudson) of what she saw, she takes him back out to the desert, where he promptly abandons her once the aliens reappear. She's found later, and her husband plots to kill her, but she's grown into a giant in her sleep. Nancy goes on a classic Kaiju rampage upon awakening, looking for her husband. During her rampage, she kills the other woman (Yvette Vickers) and kidnaps Harry King Kong style. She's eventually killed by an exploding power line transformer, and her husband thus dies with her.

The remake, starring Daryl Hannah, Daniel Baldwin, and William Windom, ramps the unsympathetic portrayal of her husband up to eleven, and has a much happier ending for Nancy. It could be seen as a tongue-in-cheek version of a Lifetime original movie: Every man is despicable or useless, and all the women, even her husband's mistress, get sympathetic portrayals and happy endings!

Obviously the Trope Namer for Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever.

The 1958 movie contains examples of:

  • Acme Products: The doctors get everything they need to sedate and restrain giant Nancy from Acme Medical Supplies, including chains and meat hooks.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Trope Namer.
  • Attack of the Monster Appendage: After she grows, all we see of Nancy until the final attack is her enormous hand.
  • Auto Erotica/Terror at Make-Out Point: A young couple making out in their car are startled by the giant Nancy.
  • Battle Butler: Jess, Nancy's butler since childhood, gets in a rumble with Harry when he tries to skip town.
  • Big Bad: The alien who transformed Nancy into a giantess.
  • Covers Always Lie: The famous poster, besides depicting Nancy as being much bigger than 50 feet, has her attacking a highway overpass in a city, whereas the movie takes place in a small desert town with nary a paved road.
  • Clueless Deputy: Charlie, who also serves as the Plucky Comic Relief.
  • Death by Woman Scorned: Nancy kills Honey by dropping a roof beam on top of her. It's unclear whether she then kills Harry by squeezing the life out of him (he is heard saying "I can't breathe!" when she picks him up) or else he got killed during the transformer explosion that does Nancy in at the end.
  • Fanservice: The poster sure seems to promise it, doesn't it? True enough, she is wearing only a bra and skirt. Alas...again, we don't see her post-growth (besides her hand) until the final attack.
    • Though, to be fair, Allison Hayes wears tight outfits with plunging necklines for most of the movie pre-growth.
  • Film Posters: One of the most iconic in cinema history, better known than the film itself.
    • One notable fact about the poster: The woman depicted is quite clearly not fifty feet tall. If you look at the people on the ground she's more like one hundred feet tall. You've heard that Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale - well apparently, neither do B-movie poster artists!
  • Giant Woman: The Trope Codifier.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: While fighting Jess, Harry hits him with an empty bottle.
  • Herr Doktor: Dr. Heinrich von Loeb.
  • Hot Topic Phlebotinum: The spacecraft is repeatedly referred to as a 'satellite', probably because Sputnik 1 had been launched the year before, making it the latest 'science' buzzword.
  • Improvised Clothes/Monster Modesty: Giant Nancy wears a bra and skirt supposedly made from her bed sheets. How they got on her while in her tiny bedroom is unclear.
  • Jerkass: Both Harry and Honey are irredeemable monsters who were already at least talking about murdering Nancy for her money at the beginning of the movie.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: A beautifully clear-cut example. Nancy is the Madonna, while Honey is the whore.
  • Medication Tampering: Harry tries to kill Nancy with a morphine overdose. He's stopped when the nurse turns on the light, which also reveals Nancy's growth.
  • My Car Hates Me: Nancy's car won't start when she tries to get away from the alien giant. Also, the sheriff's station wagon gets stuck in the mud when he finds the giant.
  • Monster Delay: You have to wait until the final ten minutes to see giant Nancy in all her glory.
  • No More for Me: The old prospector throws away his bottle when he sees giant Nancy.
  • Old Retainer: Jess has been Nancy's butler since childhood.
  • Prospector: One of the first to see the giant Nancy. In a modern twist, he's looking for uranium.
  • Say My Name: "HAAARRY!"
  • Screaming Woman: The nurse, on seeing Nancy after her size change.
  • Spheroid Dropship: The 'satellite'.
  • Stock Footage:
    • The same scene of giant Nancy walking is used over and over.
    • Given that the giant alien is dressed like a medieval soldier, it's clearly footage from a completely different movie.
  • The Television Talks Back: As a sign of her Sanity Slippage, a newsreader begins taunting Nancy about her husband's infidelity.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Deputy Charlie isn't willing to shoot Giant Nancy in the middle of her rampage. Her own husband is another story.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: No one believes Nancy when she claims that a giant in a satellite tried to grab her. No surprise, as she's a known alcoholic who was once committed to an asylum.
  • Your Size May Vary: Giant Nancy doesn't seem to stay the same size throughout.

The 1993 remake contains examples of:

  • Apologizes a Lot: Nancy is set up as having no backbone before she grows.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Naturally.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: As soon as she starts to realize that she (literally) can't be pushed around at 50 feet tall, Nancy starts telling off her father for controlling her.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Nancy's husband does this to her. Kind of justified, as he knows of her heart condition and is trying to stress her out.
  • Faint in Shock: Harry attempts to cause Nancy to suffer a heart attack and die by deliberately insulting and angering her. Nancy only faints instead, but Harry believes himself to have succeeded in killing her and drives away from the scene. Nancy later comes back for revenge, but only after spending most of the night lying sprawled on top of the house she collapsed onto, completely passed out.
  • Feminist Fantasy: This is a movie that ends with three giant women keeping their husbands/boyfriends in a jar as they all fly off in the spaceship! Also, the closest thing to a sympathetic male character is the sheriff, who is morally neutral. Even Nancy's husband's mistress is treated more sympathetically than in the original.
  • Flying Saucer: As opposed to the last movies Spheroid Dropship...sorry, 'satellite'.
  • Forgotten Framing Device: Starts with a tour group watching an educational video in a museum dedicated to Nancy, but we never see them again.
  • Gender Flip: Dr. Cushing, who was male in the original, becomes Nancy's female therapist. Also done with the sheriff's deputy.
  • Giant Woman: Well duh.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Nancy suggests this to her husband, who scoffs at the idea.
  • Human Aliens: Maybe. In the end we see Nancy beamed onto a spaceship with two other giant women, but it's not clear whether they're the same as her or actual aliens.
  • Implied Death Threat: "Try again... or else."
  • The Ingenue: Nancy falls way into this, being too naive and sweet to realize that she's used as a pawn by both her father and husband to get her money.
  • Jerkass: Every male character.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Nancy's husband ends up trapped with two other men in an endless sensitivity training session controlled by giant women.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: Men are abusive, sex-obsessed monsters? Check. Women are weak, spineless victims? Check. This thing could have been made by Lifetime.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Her husband's a philandering asshole and her father only cares because he needs her to sign papers so he can keep accessing her trust fund. Her only friend is her psychiatrist.
  • Magic Pants: As Nancy grows her clothes rip apart, yet her underwear remains intact. When she grows a second time, the dress she made stays on, although noticeably shorter.
  • Menstrual Menace: Discussed. When the doctor says that Nancy's condition is due to a hormonal imbalance, Harry quips that he's discovered a new kind of PMS.
  • The Mistress: Honey plays the mistress to both Nancy's husband and father. Surprisingly, she's played sympathetically, and Nancy gives her advice when she catches her during the rampage instead of squishing her.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: After she sees a UFO, her father tells her to stop embarrassing him. He uses this same line when asked to talk her down from her rampage...
  • Popping Buttons: Nancy's belt buckle snaps open as she grows.
  • Prospector: Of course. For some reason he's wearing old time clothes, most likely to show he's a prospector and not a drunk in the desert. He faints when he sees Nancy walk to find Harry after his donkey "Clarissa" runs off.
  • Recursive Canon: The original movie is seen playing at a drive-in.
  • Square-Cube Law: The doctor believes that Nancy's size will put strain on her heart and eventually kill her.
  • Tearing Through the Movie Screen: Giant Nancy peeks from behind a drive-in movie screen calling for her husband Harry. The movie showing: the original Attack of the 50 ft Woman.
  • Topless From The Back: In one scene, Honey gets out of bed naked, exposing her bare backside to the camera.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Our heroine. Unlike the original movie, where it's implied to be accidental, here it's eventually revealed that the aliens enlarged Nancy on purpose.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: When Nancy grows.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Noticeably only for the female characters.
  • Woman Scorned: She grows when she's scorned, too.