Cosmic Man exists in that netherworld of zero-budget SF schlock (e.g., Astounding She Monster, Teenagers from Outer Space, Beast of Yucca Flats) wherein the lack of funds precludes any real special effects or exciting action, yet somehow a uniquely warped atmosphere is established that invites contemplation by dedicated bad-film fanatics. This was the freshman screenplay of cheesy-SF writer Arthur C. Pierce, who later penned mostly-boring 1960s "sci-fi" duds Destination Inner Space, Cyborg 2087, Dimension 5, etc., and also directed the far more interesting if even schlockier Navy vs. the Night Monsters, Women of the Prehistoric Planet, and Las Vegas Hillbillys. The plot steals shamelessly from The Day the Earth Stood Still, adapting the latter's ambitious 'peacenik scientists vs. military hawks' thematics to accomodate shoestring production values. Second-and-last-time director Herbert Greene had been assistant director on Invisible Invaders, The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, and the Lone Ranger TV series. Lyn Osborn (Invasion of the Saucer Men, Space Patrol) and Ken Clayton (Johnnie in Lost Lonely and Vicious) both play Air Force sergeants here. Their radar station, while already tracking a UFO, receives a report of an 8-foot diameter silver hovering metallic sphere ("looks like a satellite") from forest rangers in nearby Stone Canyon. Astrophysicist Dr. Sorensen (Bruce Bennett, AKA Herman Brix, former 1930s Tarzan) is called in from the Pacific Technical Institute by slimy Colonel Mathews (Paul Langton; The Snow Creature, Incredible Shrinking Man, Invisible Invaders) to figure out exactly what to do with the big shiny golf ball. They use as their base of operations a nearby lodge (housing a beautiful Rock-Ola jukebox) owned by war-widow Kathy Grant (Angela Greene; Night of the Blood Beast, Tickle Me) whose wheelchair-bound son Kenny just happens to have read all of Dr. Sorensen's books ("he discovered omicron radiation!") and is an aspiring astrophysicist himself. Lots of meaningless technobabble concerning antigravity ensues, and the Colonel tries to put the make on Mrs. Grant, ick! The cosmic man (John Carradine) shows up (as basically a black, nearly featureless shadow) and proceeds to wreak havoc, accompanied by enigmatic silent vignettes, stock footage of police cars, and even some half-baked cheesecake. Then, in a bit seemingly borrowed from The Invisible Man, he shows up in humanoid form, bundled up in a parka, alpine hat, and weird X-Ray Spex-ish glasses, checks into the lodge right under everyone's noses, and hangs out playing chess with little Kenny in his bedroom! Meanwhile, the military men and scientists can't budge the floating ball, so Colonel Mathews, Dr. Sorensen, and Kenny (!?) have a lengthy debate on how to catch the cosmic man, brush up on some basic astronomical trivia, and discuss Dr. Sorensen's guilt over contributing to the bombing of Hiroshima (!!). It all winds up at Bronson Canyon, as these things often do, for the miraculous and hokey denouement. Not exactly a laugh-a-minute bad-film atrocity, Cosmic Man still has the twisted logic, awkward pacing, and strange, Woodian dialogue ("Here, Colonel, have a mint") that trash film junkies crave. Kind of like an "SF" episode of Father Knows Best, or a really poverty-stricken companion piece to Invaders from Mars or perhaps Giant Gila Monster (try it!). Mainstream movie fans beware!
Yet another entry in Image's Wade Williams Collection, Cosmic Man looks terrific on DVD. Apparently transferred from a British release print (it opens with the BBFC certificate and Associated British Pathe logo) the film looks virtually pristine, with excellent black level, contrast, brightness, sharpness, and shadow/highlight detail. Physical damage is limited to only some very light speckling and blemishing. I haven't a clue what the negative reviewer below is complaining about, unless Image actually dug up a far superior print and remastered the disc within the last two years (which seems unlikely). It really looks beautiful overall, especially for such a no-budget stinker. The included Cosmic Man trailer (narrated by Paul Frees) is also pretty crisp, with very good tonal values, but exhibiting some light scratching, lining, speckling, and blemishing. Twelve chapter stops and five bonus WWC trailers are the only other extras, but for bad-cinema lovers this is a pretty solid set for the money. "Goodbye, cosmic man."