A man’s worst fear in his prime is shrinkage, boy does Scott Carey have major problems with that. Criterion is giving The Incredible Shrinking Man a facelift with a new restoration. The penned story by Richard Matheson is laudable at best on the giant screen for its attempt to make us believe a man exposed to radiation is shrunk in size. Scott Carey shrinks as the world around him poses a greater danger to him. Insects are now a predator to him. His self-confidence shrinks with him as he gets smaller. The special effects are outdated. If you look beyond that this is a fun frolic adventure that questions our existence in the vast universe. Just how big of a role do we play in it? When you lose everything, who will stand by you at your lowest. You will never look at your house cat the same way after watching this movie.
Existentialism goes pop in this benchmark of atomic-age science fiction, a superlative adaptation of a novel by the legendary Richard Matheson that has awed and unnerved generations of viewers with the question, What is humanity’s place amid the infinity of the universe?
Six months after being exposed to a mysterious radiation cloud, suburban everyman Scott Carey (Grant Williams) finds himself becoming smaller . . . and smaller . . . and smaller—until he’s left to fend for himself in a world in which ordinary cats, mousetraps, and spiders pose a mortal threat, all while grappling with a diminishing sense of himself.
“Robert Scott Carey and his beloved wife Louise Carey are spending vacation on the motorboat of his brother Charlie. When Louise goes to the galley to bring a beer to Robert, he is engulfed by a weird mist. Six months later, Robert is sprayed with insecticide and when he goes to the doctor for a routine medical examination, he realizes that he had become shorter. Then he goes to a laboratory to be examined by scientists and they conclude that the combination of the mist with the insecticide has caused the effect. When Robert is only 93 centimeters tall, the scientists find a formula and he stops shrinking and meets the midget Clarice that gives hope to him. But soon he continues to shrink and he moves to a dollhouse. One day, Louise is not in the house and their cat breaks into Robert’s house. However, he succeeds to escape to the basement and Louise believes that the cat has eaten him. Robert is trapped in the cellar and he has to struggle to survive against a spider and to find nourishment.” (courtesy IMDB)
Directed by the prolific creature-feature impresario Jack Arnold with ingenious optical effects and a transcendent metaphysical ending, The Incredible Shrinking Man gazes with wonder and trepidation into the unknowable vastness of the cosmic void.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES
• New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• New audio commentary featuring genre-film historian Tom Weaver and horror-music expert David Schecter
• New program on the film’s special effects by effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt
• New conversation between filmmaker Joe Dante and comedian and writer Dana Gould
• Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal (Director’s Cut) (2021)• Interview from 2016 with Richard Christian Matheson, novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson’s son
• Interview with director Jack Arnold from 1983
• 8 mm home-cinema version from 1957
• Trailer and teaser narrated by filmmaker Orson Welles
• PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien