Michael LaBarbera, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Chicago, has gained a reputation as a man unafraid to tackle life’s knottier mysteries. He once wrote a paper explaining why animals don’t have wheels. Most famously, he is the author of “The Biology of B-Movie Monsters,” a treatise in which he explored the science behind films like “Them!” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches.” And his findings represent good news (for humans, anyway): The shrinking, enlarging, and sundry biological tinkering employed in creature-feature disaster flicks of the 1950s and ’60s would have been a disaster mainly for the creatures themselves.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Mothra, without a new set of tracheal tubes, would have suffocated before getting off the ground, says University of Chicago professor Michael LaBarbera.
The 50-Foot Woman would break a leg if she took a single step, said LaBarbera, the author of "The Biology of B-Movie Monsters."
Colombia Pictures/Getty Images
Before destroying the Golden Gate Bridge in “It Came From Beneath the Sea,” the giant octopus in the film would have suffered debilitating blood pressure problems.
"The Incredible Shrinking Man" should use thrust weapons, like a spear, rather than weapons that use momentum, like a hammer.
King Kong, in the absence of a refigured skeletal system, would have crumpled into a heap before having a chance to crush a single human.
LaBarbera has difficulty deciding what his favorite monster movie is, but thinks the shoddiest example of the genre is "The Giant Claw,"