Sunday, August 29, 2021



Another Tubi discovery--a very, very low budget 1956 film dealing with the Yeti. The producer-director of MAN BEAST was Jerry Warren, best known for churning out mediocre versions of various Mexican genre movies. 

This is another "the poster is far more exciting than anything that happens in the story" flick. Somewhere in the Himalayas, an American named Connie (Asa Maynor, billed as Virginia Maynor) is searching for her brother, who is part of an expedition. Connie and her friends discuss rumors concerning the Yeti, and they have to rely on a native guide named Varga (George Skaff). Varga knows plenty about what happened to Connie's brother, and the Yeti in particular. 

MAN BEAST is only about a little over an hour long, but it feels much longer, due to the fact that most of movie consists of mountain climbing stock footage. (I was not able to discover where this footage came from on the internet, but to my untrained eye, it may have been made up of scenes from one of those German mountain films from the early 1930s.) The characters (and the dialogue) are uninteresting, and it takes forever for a Yeti to actually show up. 

The Yeti costume is actually effective (Wikipedia claims it was an old gorilla suit used in a poverty row film called WHITE PONGO). The Yeti here has a bit of a resemblance to the Wampa in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Unfortunately, Jerry Warren didn't have enough sense to use the Yeti properly--the fellow pops up every so often, but it barely interacts with the cast. The Yeti isn't even around at the climax...and no, it does not carry off the leading lady as is shown on the poster above. The no-name actors are not helped by generic lines and paper-thin characters. 

The one thing that does make the movie memorable is the character of Varga. It is revealed at the climax that Varga is descended from the Yeti, and is sort of a conduit between the creatures and modern civilization. George Skaff as Varga does give off a weird alien vibe, but his backstory, like everything else in this picture, isn't developed enough, and winds up being wasted. 

One thing that has to be mentioned about MAN BEAST. The credits list a lead actor named Rock Madison. The thing is....Rock Madison does not exist! There's a number of stories stating why Jerry Warren came up with the Madison name, but, whatever one you believe, the point is that the lead billing in this film is given to a fake name instead of a human being. 

It's too bad that Jerry Warren didn't use the creativity he put into the billing for MAN BEAST on all the other aspects of the film's production. It's not a "so bad it's good" movie, and you can't make the excuse that the budget was too low. Nothing much happens in MAN BEAST, and even a guy like me could figure out about a dozen ways to improve this story without having to increase the budget. Having little money, no stars, and black & white stock footage does not mean the movie has to be boring--Roger Corman could have taken those elements and made something that would at least hold the viewer's attention.  

Sunday, August 22, 2021



KILL ME TOMORROW (1957) is the last film Terence Fisher directed before THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. It is a low-budget British black & white crime story, much in the same vein as the B pictures Fisher made for Hammer Films in the early 1950s. KILL ME TOMORROW attempts to be a gritty noir thriller, but it doesn't quite succeed due to the contrived script. 

Hollywood character actor Pat O'Brien plays Bart Crosbie, an American reporter working for a London newspaper. Things aren't going too well for Crosbie--his wife was killed in an auto accident in which he was the driver, and his irresponsible ways are affecting his job. Crosbie gets fired, then finds out that his son needs an expensive operation to save his life. Crosbie goes to the home of his boss at the newspaper for help, but finds he has just been murdered by a diamond smuggler's (George Coulouris) goon. To make matters worse, the boss' niece (Lois Maxwell) happens to walk in, and sees Crosbie standing over the body while holding the gun used in the killing. Bart runs out, and hits upon an idea. He will blackmail the smuggler into giving him the money for his child's operation, by agreeing to take the rap for the murder. Needless to say, this plan doesn't work the way Crosbie thought it would. 

KILL ME TOMORROW was made by Delta Films, a short-lived company run by producer Francis Searle and Terence Fisher. It would be easy, though, to mistake it as an early 1950s Hammer, since it shares many of the same attributes of those films--a past-his-prime American actor as the leading man, a story that involves crime, and a running time of about 80 minutes. KILL ME TOMORROW does have a fair amount of location shooting that gives it some vitality. 

What this movie really needed was a younger and more energetic leading man. Pat O'Brien (who was in his late fifties when he made this film) is pudgy and tired-looking, and there doesn't seem to be any reason why the attractive and classy Lois Maxwell would go out of her way to help him. Ironically, KILL ME TOMORROW would have been more suited for O'Brien if it had been made when the actor was working for Warner Bors. in the mid-1930s (Joan Blondell could have played Lois Maxwell's role). At one point O'Brien beats up three bad guys in a fistfight, and not only it is hard to believe, the sequence is clumsily handled. The sub-plot concerning O'Brien's son doesn't help--the kid is portrayed in such an overly-cute manner, he becomes annoying. 

Lois Maxwell and Pat O'Brien in KILL ME TOMORROW

Maxwell (best known as Miss Moneypenny in the classic Bond films) does the best she can with a under-written role. George Coulouris (CITIZEN KANE) is a slimy, though not very smart, villain, with future spaghetti western veteran Al Mulock as one of his henchmen. Robert Brown, who would much later play M alongside Maxwell in a few Bond movies, is one of Crosbie's newspaper co-workers, and Richard Pasco, in his very first big-screen role, plays the doctor taking care of O'Brien's son. Both Brown and Pasco would later appear in a number of Hammer films. 

KILL ME TOMORROW has a special "guest star"--rock and roll singer Tommy Steele, who was very popular in England at the time. Steele shows up twice, at a coffee bar run by George Coulouris' character, singing the same song. He doesn't have much screen time, and he doesn't even get any dialogue--I'm pretty sure that any fans of the singer who went and saw this film when it came out were rather disappointed. 

According to Tony Dalton in his biography of Terence Fisher, the director got along very well with Pat O'Brien (one can imagine that the two spent plenty of time together at various pubs). Fisher probably got more enjoyment being with O'Brien than he did making this film. KILL ME TOMORROW isn't bad, but the cast and the director are the most interesting things about it. 

What makes KILL ME TOMORROW notable is that it is the film Terence Fisher directed before THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. After CURSE, there would be no more black & white contemporary crime stories for Fisher. If the average person watches KILL ME TOMORROW and THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN back-to-back, that individual wouldn't believe both films were directed by the same man. I think that's a point in Terence Fisher's favor. 

Friday, August 20, 2021

CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE On Blu-ray From Severin


One of the films included in the magnificent THE EUROCRYPT OF CHRISTOPHER LEE COLLECTION box set from Severin is CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE, a 1963 film that has gone under many titles. The main title on the version presented in this Blu-ray set is LA CRIPTA E L'INCUBO. I had a Retromedia DVD of this movie that was entitled TERROR IN THE CRYPT, and among other things it is also known as CRYPT OF HORROR. 

The story,  set sometime in the early 19th Century and co-written by Eurocult legends Ernesto Gastaldi and Tonino Valerii, is a very loose adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu's CARMILLA. Christopher Lee plays Count Ludwig Karnstein, who hires a scholar (Jose Campos) to come to his remote castle and delve into the history of the Karnsteins. The Count is worried that his lovely young daughter Laura (Adriana Ambesi) is somehow possessed by a Karnstein ancestor who was accused of being a witch. Laura is starting to have visions of other Karnsteins being murdered--is she the killer? Or is she being controlled by the sinister-looking housekeeper (Nela Conjiu)? And what about the strange relationship between Laura and the unexpected (and beautiful) female guest at the castle named Lyuba (Pier Anna Quaglia)? 

As mentioned, CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE is not a straight adaptation of CARMILLA--there isn't even a character of that name in the movie. If one has read Le Fanu's novel, or at least seen THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, it's easy to figure out who the main menace here is. There is also isn't much vampiric activity going on--the evil Karnstein ancestor is more of a spectral threat. 

CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE is, though, a great example of Italian Gothic horror. The movie was mostly filmed at a Castello Piccolomini in Italy, and director Camillo Mastrocinque and DOPs Julio Ortas and Giuseppe Aquari use this location to the fullest, giving the story a rich and effective look. The film was shot in black & white (I don't think it would have worked as well if it had been in color). 

There's no nudity or gore here--the emphasis is on atmosphere and mood. As expected, there's plenty of screen time given to nightgown-clad nubile young women wandering around in the middle of the night. There's a hint that Laura and Lyuba desire one another, but it's not taken to the extremes of THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. A flashback dealing with the fate of the wicked Karnstein ancestor is very reminiscent of the opening sequence of Bava's BLACK SUNDAY. 

Having Christopher Lee in a movie with the word "vampire" in the title certainly gets attention, but the actor happens to play one of the most normal roles of his career (if you consider a 19th Century European nobleman from a notorious family to be normal). Lee is very handsome here, due mainly to a distinguished hairpiece. His character also gets to have an affair with a servant (Vera Valmont) who looks as young as his daughter. (Valmont also gets plenty of nightgown time as well.)  Lee's own voice is also used on the English dub track, which is a major plus. 

Sadly, out of all the films included in Severin's Christopher Lee set, CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE has the least amount of extras. On the disc itself, there's only a trailer. Included on the RELICS FROM THE CRYPT extras disc in the Lee set (which is inside the case for CHALLENGE THE DEVIL) is a 34-minute interview with co-writers Ernesto Gastaldi and Tonino Valerii called THE CRYPT KEEPERS, in which they discuss CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE. The two men go into how it took them only about a day to write the complete script (maybe that's the reason why there's so many familiar elements in it). The duo discuss the director, and how Italian genre films were produced and sold at the time. Valerii was also an AD on CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE, and he gives insight into the making of the film. (Valerii also mentions that he was highly impressed with Christopher Lee.) It's too bad this Blu-ray of CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE did not get an audio commentary.   

The back of the disc case for CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE says that Severin used a 2K scan from a fine-grain 35mm master print for this Blu-ray. The film (presented in 1.84:1 widescreen) looks marvelous--the black & white photography appears quite sharp. The English and Italian voice tracks are included, with subtitles. This is a Region A Blu-ray. 

CRYPT OF THE VAMPIRE is not a knock you over the head type of horror film. It's a bit slow moving at times, but it has a dreamlike quality to it, and the atmospheric locations (and attractive cast) provide plenty of Gothic eye candy. I believe it's one of the better European productions Christopher Lee appeared in during the 1960s. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

F. P. 1 DOESN'T ANSWER On Blu-ray From Kino


Kino continues its exemplary series of Weimar Cinema releases with the 1932 film F. P. 1 DOESN'T ANSWER. Both the original German and English-language versions of the film are included on this disc. 

The story concerns the F. P. 1, or Floating Platform One, an artificial island built in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The purpose of F. P. 1 is to be a way-station for airplanes. The project is spurred on by aviator-adventurer Ellissen (Hans Albers). Ellissen's friend Droste (Paul Hartmann) is the designer and captain of the facility. The two men are both in love with Claire Lennartz (Sybille Schmitz). When F. P. 1 is sabotaged, Claire convinces a down-on-his-luck Ellisson to fly to the platform and save the facility. 

When I was a kid, and I started reading about fantastic cinema, F. P. 1 was almost always mentioned in books about science-fiction movies. It does have a sci-fi element in the floating platform, but the story is very much grounded in the reality of the time. The F. P. 1 is not presented here as a far-flung entity--it is developed as something that could actually exist and work. The miniatures and indoor/outdoor sets used to represent the F. P. 1 are very effective, as expected from a production made by the legendary UFA Studios and Erich Pommer. 

What gets in the way of showcasing the F. P. 1 is the love triangle sub-plot between the main characters, especially in the German version. Droste is stable and hard-working, Ellissen is restless and devil-may-care, and Claire is stuck between's the type of plotting one has seen in numerous movies and TV shows. The story was based on a novel by Curt Siodmak, and obviously the human element was injected to give the audience an emotional link, but personally I would rather have been shown more about the floating platform. The sabotage element of the story is not developed enough--we never really find out who the bad guys are, or the reason why they want to bring F. P. 1 down. (It also seemed way to easy to shut down such a grand creation as F. P. 1.) 

One of the highlights of the German version is the casting of Peter Lorre as Ellisson's hapless photojournalist pal. Lorre doesn't have all that much to do, but as usual, he always draws the viewer's attention. The German cut also has a recurring song about the wonders of flying. 

The English version of F. P. 1 has Conrad Veidt as Ellisson, Jill Esmond as Claire, and Leslie Fenton as Droste. The English version runs about a half-hour less than the German one, and the pacing is much quicker. All the scenes in the English version are filmed exactly like their German counterparts--the shots and camera set-ups are the same, as is the dialogue. Conrad Veidt is much livelier in the role of Ellisson than Hans Albers. The title of the English version is SECRETS OF F. P. 1. 

A French version of F. P. 1 was also made at the same time, starring Charles Boyer as Ellisson. That version unfortunately is not on this disc (I assume it was unavailable). Karl Hartl is listed as director of all three versions. 

Both the English and German versions of F. P. 1 on this Kino Blu-ray look quite sharp, with above-average sound. (English subtitles are available for the German version.) The main extra is a new audio commentary by Eddy von Mueller. Mueller (who has a very deliberate way of speaking) goes into detail about the film and Weimar Cinema in general, and also focuses on the cast & crew's dealings with the Nazi regime. This is a Region A Blu-ray.

My interest in early German cinema is basically due to METROPOLIS. F. P. 1 certainly isn't in that category, but it has enough to satisfy film geeks. The floating platform itself is truly the star of the show, and I couldn't help but feel that it's the type of facility a James Bond villain might use. The English version, with its faster rhythm and Conrad Veidt, might come off better to the average viewer. 

Monday, August 16, 2021



Kino has released on Region A Blu-ray Josef von Sternberg's first talking film, the 1929 THUNDERBOLT, from Paramount. 

THUNDERBOLT is a follow-up to von Sternberg's gangster hit UNDERWORLD of a few years earlier. Both movies star George Bancroft. In my opinion UNDERWORLD is the much better film. 

Bancroft plays crime lord Jim Lang, nicknamed "Thunderbolt" due to his powerful right-hand punch. Bancroft's girl, Ritzie (Fay Wray), is tired of the gangster life, and wants to go back to her childhood sweetheart Bob Moran (Richard Arlen), who is an ordinary teller in a bank. Jim decides to take care of Bob personally, but Ritzie puts the cops onto him. Jim is sent to death row to await execution. While in the stir, Jim's gang robs the bank that Bob worked for, and they set Bob up for murder during the heist...and now Bob is on death row, in a cell right across from Jim! Will Thunderbolt carry out his revenge on Bob, or will he save him to make it up to Ritzie? 

I have to say that THUNDERBOLT did not live up to my expectations. It is a very creaky early talkie, and the acting is rather stilted at times. It's not a hard-edged crime thriller--what little shooting there happens to be is done off-screen. Most of the film takes place on death row, but it's not a realistic prison story either--the other inmates and even the warden are portrayed as comic figures. 

Josef von Sternberg does try to put in some of his usual visual flair when he can, but the pacing is sluggish. The director also attempts to use sound in a interesting manner, but due to the limitations of early audio equipment the dialogue at times is hard to make out. 

George Bancroft was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in THUNDERBOLT, but honestly I didn't think he was that overwhelming in it. Richard Arlen is very stodgy as nice guy Bob (in his defense though the role wasn't written very well). I felt that Fay Wray was miscast as a gangster's moll--she seems uncomfortable when she is on the screen. 

The visual quality of the film is decent, but not outstanding. The audio is certainly not going to be perfect, considering this is a sound film from 1929. 

The main extra here is a new audio commentary from Nick Pinkerton. He does some analysis of the movie, but he spends most of his time reciting biographical facts about the cast and crew and naming off film titles that they worked on. 

Kino deserves credit for releasing a film such as THUNDERBOLT on Blu-ray. (Even though the movie was originally produced by Paramount, it is now owned by Universal.) One does have to make allowances for THUNDERBOLT, since it is such an early talkie, but I believe it is more a curiosity piece than an entertaining movie. It might have been better as a silent picture altogether. 

Sunday, August 8, 2021



Another first-time watch for me. This is the third classic "Fly" movie, after THE FLY and RETURN OF THE FLY, which were made in America in the late 1950s. CURSE OF THE FLY wasn't produced until 1965, and it was made in England. The co-producer was low-budget movie maven Robert Lippert, and the director was the very effective Don Sharp. 

The Delambre family from the first two FLY films is still trying to perfect teleportation...and they're still screwing up. Henri Delambre (Brian Donlevy) and his sons Martin (George Baker) and Albert (Michael Graham) have managed to teleport objects from Quebec to London, but there are several after-effects. Both Henri and Martin have been physically affected by these endeavors, but not as badly as some of the people they have worked with. While driving home one night Martin picks up a beautiful young girl along the roadside named Patricia (Carole Gray). Martin rather quickly falls for Patricia and marries her, then finds out that she has escaped from a mental asylum. After being brought back to the Delambre family manor, Patricia  realizes there are all sorts of strange things going on, while her new in-laws are determined to continue on with their experiments, no matter what the cost. 

CURSE OF THE FLY (that's the title shown on screen) gets the viewer's attention at the start, with Carole Gray, clad only in underwear, wandering around outside at night in slow-motion. The rest of the film doesn't live up to this sequence. It's very talky at times, and the sub-plot of Patricia's mental problems gets in the way of the main story. 

Brian Donlevy looks and sounds very uncomfortable here, and I don't think it was because of the character he was playing. George Baker's Martin isn't defined enough--at times it seems he's going to go against his father's wish to perfect the teleportation process, at other times he seems unstable. Carole Gray gets more to do in CURSE OF THE FLY than she did in ISLAND OF TERROR, and she makes a fetching damsel in distress. Charles Carson plays Inspector Charas, the role that Herbert Marshall played in the original THE FLY. 

The Delambres have a Chinese couple that assists them, played by Bert Kwouk and the decidedly non-Asian Yvette Rees. Rees made a major impression in Don Sharp's WITCHCRAFT, but here she looks silly in her Oriental get-up (she wears as much facial makeup as the victims of the teleportation experiments do). Rees' character has a Mrs. Danvers-like devotion to Martin's first wife, who supposedly disappeared--one figures out very easily what happened to her. 

There's plenty of gooey make-ups on the results of the Delambre's experiments. and Sharp is smart enough not to dwell on them too long. There is one scene involving FX that sticks out--a couple of the "experiments" are transported together from Quebec to London, and they become fused into a writhing, disgusting mass of pulpy flesh. It's a result that's quite disturbing. 

CURSE OF THE FLY feels more like a 1950s sci-fi film than a product of mid-1960s English Gothic. (It was filmed in Cimemascope and black and white.) The travails of Carole Gray, wandering around a manor house in a nightgown while trying to find out what is going on, do not mix very well with the futuristic elements of teleportation. Henri and Martin go on and on about how their invention will help the world, and how "sacrifices" have to be made for the greater good, but you get the feeling these guys would have problems picking the right bus to go across town. 

In the tradition of most classic horror film sequels, CURSE OF THE FLY ignores series continuity. The events of the first film are mentioned, but with a different outcome. Henri is apparently the son of the David Hedison character from THE FLY, but in that film Hedison's boy was named Philippe, and he grew up to become the focus of RETURN OF THE FLY. The events of RETURN OF THE FLY are not referred to here. (What does boggle the mind is a family tree that includes David Hedison, Vincent Price, and Brian Donlevy.) 

At the climax of CURSE OF THE FLY, an on-screen credit asks, "Is This The End?" It was for this series, at least until David Cronenberg remade the original in the 1980s. There wasn't much more one could do with the Fly series, except have people turn into mutants after being teleported over and over again. CURSE OF THE FLY is notable for being an English spin on a American science-fiction franchise, and it is far more diverting than RETURN OF THE FLY. (Oh, one more thing....there are no flies in this movie!!) 

Saturday, August 7, 2021



THE SECRET BRIDE (1934) is not a romantic melodrama--it is a mystery story involving political corruption at the state level. It was produced by Warner Bros., and it stars Barbara Stanwyck and Warren William. 

Robert Sheldon (Warren William), the attorney general of his state, marries Ruth Vincent (Barbara Stanwyck), the daughter of the state's governor. Before the two can publicly announce the event, Sheldon finds out that his office must investigate evidence that the governor has taken a bribe. Sheldon believes the governor is being framed, but Ruth begs him to keep their marriage secret for the time being--if the public finds out about their relationship, critics will say that the attorney general is biased toward his father-in-law. Complications ensue when one of Sheldon's investigators (Douglass Dumbrille) is murdered, and Sheldon's secretary (Glenda Farrell) is charged with the crime. The main witness to the shooting is Ruth, and she's afraid to go forward, because that will reveal her marriage to all gets settled out in the end. 

THE SECRET BRIDE is another of those 1930s Warner movies that are only about an hour long, but have enough plot to last twice that time. The story goes so fast that at times it goes right past the main characters. Warren William and Barbara Stanwyck take it upon themselves to investigate matters, but things get so far ahead of them they wind up reacting to the situation rather than solving it. 

This film was released in late 1934, post-Code, and due to that it doesn't have the Pre-Code Warners sass. There's almost no humor, except for Glenda Farrell having a few wisecracks. Stanwyck and Warren William got up to all sorts of things in the Pre-Code days, but here they're positively tame. As always, Stanwyck does the best she can in the situation, but the role doesn't enable her to show off her acting talents. (She is fitted out with a impressive wardrobe here.)

Barbara Stanwyck and Warren William

Glenda Farrell doesn't get all that much to do either (her role could have been played by just about any actress of the time). There's plenty of distinguished looking actors in the story, such as Douglass Dumbrille, Henry O'Neill, and Arthur Byron as the Governor. (If you know your supporting players, you can easily figure out who the bad guys are.) Grant Mitchell winds up getting the best role in the film as the frightened little man who is the key to the whole affair. 

Former German silent screen star and now director William Dieterle does his best to put some vitality into the tale, with a roving camera, plenty of movement in the frame, and a number of montages. Ernest Haller's cinematography gives some expressionism to the proceedings. 

I had high hopes for THE SECRET BRIDE, what with the combination of Barbara Stanwyck and Warren William. It's not bad--the visual aspects of the film are impressive--but I felt much more could have been made of the story. For example--what if the attorney general and the governor didn't like each other, and Warren William was actively trying to send the man to jail, while still in love with his daughter? That would have made things much more dramatic, and given Stanwyck much more to work with. One of the habits of film geeks like me is to constantly "re-write" old movies in our minds, somehow boldly thinking we can improve them. 

Monday, August 2, 2021



Is there anything more exciting than the life of a U.S. Postal Inspector? Apparently Universal Studios in 1936 thought the job was exciting enough to make a movie about the profession, called, naturally enough, POSTAL INSPECTOR. 

Ricardo Cortez plays Inspector Bill Davis, a man dedicated to the postal service. He's so dedicated that he doesn't even bother to romance this movie's leading lady, ultra-cute Patricia Ellis as nightclub singer Connie Larrimore. It's left to Bill's Jimmy Olsen-like younger brother Charlie (Michael Loring) to squire Connie. 

Cortez's Davis has a busy schedule, dealing with such things as protecting little old ladies from mail fraud. When the area he works in is hit by massive flooding, Bill does his darndest to make sure that the mail still gets through. That includes a $3 million shipment of worn currency that Charlie is in charge of. Connie inadvertently lets slip to Benez (Bela Lugosi), the owner of the club she works at, about the shipment...and he and his flunkies believe they can use the flood as a cover to steal the loot. It all leads to a speedboat chase down flooded streets, with Bill and Charlie in hot pursuit of Benez. 

Yes, this is a Universal movie with Bela Lugosi. This was the final film for Bela under his mid-1930s contract with Universal, and one gets the impression that he was stuck in this film so the studio could get him off the payroll. Benez is a very stale role for such a unique performer as Lugosi. The character isn't crafty, or clever, or sinister....he doesn't have any choice lines of dialogue, and he doesn't even try to put the moves on Patricia Ellis either. The real reason Benez wants to steal the huge amount of worn currency is because he's in debt to a dangerous gangster. Lugosi gets fourth billing here, and if you choose to watch POSTAL INSPECTOR simply because of Bela, you're bound to be disappointed. 

Ricardo Cortez and Patricia Ellis had starred in several earlier Warner Bros. films that were far more exciting and entertaining than POSTAL INSPECTOR. Cortez doesn't get to use his Pre-Code shadiness here--his Bill Davis is a totally upright fellow. The entire film plays out as a tribute to the U.S. Post Office--so much so that one wonders if Universal executives were awarded free postage stamps in appreciation. 

POSTAL INSPECTOR runs a little less than an hour, but it's still padded with plenty of actual flood footage (which doesn't match up to anything in the film). The speedboat chase isn't very thrilling, and there's more singing by Patricia Ellis than action. The director of this film was one Otto Brower (I guess James Whale must have been busy). There's not a lot of familiar faces in the supporting cast, but Hattie McDaniel does have a very small role as Patricia Ellis' maid. 

If POSTAL INSPECTOR had been made in the Pre-Code era, one would expect an edgier film....but then the Post Office probably wouldn't have been too happy about that. A Pre-Code POSTAL INSPECTOR would also probably have had Ricardo Cortez as Benez instead of the hero. After his boring part in this picture, Bela Lugosi would go through some hard times for a couple years until SON OF FRANKENSTEIN. 

Sunday, August 1, 2021



The legendary Svengoolie showed this film last night on his MeTV program, and it was the first time I had ever seen it. I was well aware of its notorious reputation--some consider it to be among the worst films ever made, others believe its story line to be meaningful. 

It is a movie with a very low budget, even for 1962. The story takes place in the aftermath of a nuclear war, when humanity has to rely on robots to keep civilization going. The more advanced the robots become, the more they resemble humans, causing a group called "The Order of Flesh & Blood" to try and stop the progress of the machines. 

The script does have a few notable ideas about what it means to be human, and those who read too much into this production feel that the script offers up metaphors for racism and social class distinctions. Even I'll admit that in a few ways the film anticipates BLADE RUNNER--but please understand, I am emphatically NOT putting THE CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS anywhere near the same level as the Ridley Scott classic. 

The problem with THE CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS is that it plays out in such an uninspired and desultory manner. Nearly the entire film consists of characters stiffly standing next to each other and exchanging lame dialogue. The film is incredibly static visually (other than the goofy costumes). One could say that the human characters acting like emotionless robots is meant to be ironic, but I highly doubt it. 

There are a few names involved in this film that have some renown. Don Megowan, who plays the lead character (an anti-robot human) was the humanized Creature from the Black Lagoon in THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US. Dudley Manlove, one of the lead robots, was also in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Famed monster make-up man Jack Pierce was responsible for the look of the "robots", and the cinematographer was Hal Mohr, who worked on far, far better productions during Hollywood's Golden Age. 

THE CREATION OF THE HUMANOIDS didn't impress me at all--it's not even weird enough to reach a "so bad it's entertaining/interesting" level. The main plot twist involving Don Megowan's character can be seen from a mile away, and the attempt at a TWILIGHT ZONE type of ending seems contrived. If it wasn't for Svengoolie's antics, I probably wouldn't have watched the whole thing.