Hungarian-born writer/producer Ivan Tors isn’t a widely-known name, though several projects he made (or worked on) have become cult favorites over the years. He produced and created several classics for both film and television, including Sea Hunt, Flipper, and Daktari — which featured two of his very favorite things in life: the sea and animals. Another of his favorite obsessions involved science, which he employed in a trilogy of sci-fi tales in the early ‘50s. All three films centered on operatives of the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI), who were employed to protect the public from any weird scientific mishaps.
Naturally, you can’t have a group called the Office of Scientific Investigation without having any freakish occurrences threatening to destroy civilization as we know it, as is evident in the first of the three films, The Magnetic Monster. Penned by Tors and sci-fi guru Curt Siodmak (Donovan’s Brain), the tale here concerns of the OSI’s “A-Men,” led by Dr. Jeffrey Stewart (portrayed by Richard Carlson, who also starred in It Came from Outer Space that same year, and appeared in Creature from the Black Lagoon the next), who encounter a bizarre mystery in the guise of an invisible, magnetic menace.
While you wouldn’t think a rogue magnet was capable of destroying the planet, this one is. The microscopic monster has to absorb energy in order to expand, and it does so every 11 hours, doubling in size each time and leaving a deadly trail of radiation behind — a process that will eventually kill all life on Earth and send the planet itself spiraling out into the galaxy! Though the story uses of a lot of “scientific” doubletalk just to ensure the seriousness of the narrative, The Magnetic Monster emerges as an odd-but-enjoyable low-budget sci-fi flick. King Donovan and Jean Byron (as Carlson’s pregnant wife, whom he insists get fat) co-star, with appearances by Byron Foulger, Bowery Boy Billy Benedict, Frank Gerstle, Strother Martin, and Donald Kerr.