Saturday, October 20, 2012

31 Days of Halloween - Day 20 - Movie 1

The Phantom Creeps (1939) is a feature length movie edited from the 12 chapter serial of the same name. Accompanied by music from Bride of Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi plays Dr. Zorka,  the Thomas Edison of mad scientists. Harnessing an unknown element from a powerful meteorite, he is able to create an invisibility belt, a giant menacing robot, a non-invasive surgical device, a means of inducing suspended animation using a disk and a spider with pipe cleaner legs, and a death ray which affects anyone exposed to a special gas. What does he plan to do with these things? Make a fortune (which he apparently already has at his disposal) and then after meddling foreign spies and domestic government types interfere, world domination.

Even in truncated form, streamlined to remove much of the padding and repetitive exposition, The Phantom Creeps is a bit of a chore to sit through. All of the exciting cliff hanger elements from the serials were kept in, so we are treated to unending car chases and crashes, explosions, airplane crashes, etc.. The best thing in the movie is the giant creepy robot played by stuntman Ed Wolff who delivers an effective performance that truly suggests a remote controlled giant robot rather than a big guy wearing a costume.

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