Tuesday, 6 September 2011


Turhan Bey gets top billing here although his role is definitely that of a support to the other stars of this minor Universal horror film. The real star of the piece is George Zucco who must have been the real reason people paid to see the film (although I'm sure the title was the film's main box-office draw in 1943). What a trooper Zucco was! Not only did he never turn in a bad performance he often seems to have a twinkle in his eye indicating that he found his on screen villany both enjoyable and amusing. Whether this was really the case I have no idea but it comes over that was and has kept him a popular figure among horror fans. Here Zucco is pretty restrained as the doctor engaged in outre experiments but his performance is just as entertaining as ever. Evelyn Ankers is always a welcome addition to these old thrillers and although he is a little on the bland side David Bruce adequate as the unlucky title character. Both Robert Armstrong and Milburn Stone have amusing supporting roles and look out for Charles McGraw in one of his earliest appearances. James Hogan's direction is pretty much by the numbers and the film moves as slowly and as predictably as the script dictates. If, like me, you are a dedicated fan of Universal horrors or Hollywood B-movies in general then you'll probably overlook the slow patches and relish the cast. Rating ***

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I've always had a soft spot for this film even years before I saw it! Why? Because I read about it in FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND as a kid in the 70s; Uncle Forry devoted a "filmbook" to telling the entire story of the film with copious photos. It wasn't until the 1980s when the film was finally released on VHS that I saw it and, while all the minuses you mention are definitely there, we Universal Horror nuts always do cut it some slack. It's a thoroughly entertaining lesser-Universal with a great cast.

One side note: back in the 70's there was an erroneous announcement in the pages of FM that David Bruce had died. A full page obituary was printed. The truth was that Bruce was very much alive and Forry printed a retraction in the next issue along with some brand-new photos of David Bruce visiting Forry's Ackermansion to prove the reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated. I did wonder, however, if Bruce had merely resuscitated himself with some fresh hearts before visiting Forry. One never knows, do one???