Thursday, 11 September 2008


Director Harry Lachman started his career as an artist, became a film director in England, France and his native America, and then went back to being an artist. This film came right at the end of his career as a director and shows him to be a quite competent director of B-movies. Lachman was a house director at Fox and was used to handling the studio's Charlie Chan series which, along with his biopic THE LOVES OF EDGAR ALLAN POE the previous year, would have made him an obvious choice for this, one of the studios few low-budget horror movies. Based, uncredited, on a story by Gaston Leroux (of PHANTOM OF THE OPERA fame) and owing not a little to H.G.Wells' Island of Dr.Moreau, the films benefits from the presence of horror regular George Zucco as the eponymous mad doctor and an excellent performance by J. Carrol Naish as his secret. Like most B-movies from the bigger studios the film is able to utilise some impressive sets and a supporting cast that includes such reliables as Arthur Shields and Mike Mazurki (both strangely uncredited in prominent roles.) The films, while not offering anything original, at a fast paced 58 minutes, never outstays its welcome and this, combined with all the points above and the excellent photography, make this good fun and a welcome addition to any vintage horror film collection. Rating **

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

This was kinda the also-ran of the new Fox Horror Classics box set. It's kinda the "oh, that movie's in there as well, is it" dvd of the trio. DRAGONWYCK? Great to see it on dvd. CHANDU THE MAGICIAN? Even more exciting!!! DR. RENAULT'S SECRET? Yeah. Well, it's better than a poke in the eye, I suppose. Granted, I've never actually SEEN the film so it will be nice to finally see it. If only to say that I've finally seen it.

I did find the interior booklet included with the box set to be slightly comical. It attempts to paint the three dvds as featuring those three titans of terror: Bela Lugosi. . .Vincent Price . . .and. . .J. Carrol Naish?!?!?!? No disrespect to the man but I don't think Naish is on the same playing field as the other two greats. A simpering appearance as a hunchback in HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, a flatfoot in THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS and a nutty doc in THE MONSTER MAKER do not a titan of terror make.