Sunday, January 5, 2014


MGM/Timeless Media Group.  D: William Beaudine.  John Carradine is Dr. Randolph in this obscure Monogram chiller as a scientist obsessed with reviving the dead in his spiffy Strickfadden-style home laboratory with understudy cohort Dr. Cochran (Robert Shayne, Inspector Henderson of TVs SUPERMAN).  As the team gets closer and closer to success, they notice that as the corpses start to show signs of life, they attain a blanched marble-like skin texture, hence the bewildering, nonsensical title.  When a dead sailor washes up on the shore, the local detective immediately suspects Carradine.  Meanwhile as the experiments resume, Carradine's wife (Claudia Drake of Ulmer's DETOUR), Shayne's fiance (Maris Wrixon), a love triangle, a missing family pet and the annoying detective provide constant interference to complicate things.  What's really bizarre is how the Frankenstein resurrection plot unexpectedly takes a backseat to the strange voodoo ceremonies of Maria (Rosa Rey of Fritz Lang's SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR), the creepy housekeeper, who really gums up the works and turns the revived subjects, both human and canine,  into ghosts! Weird and unnecessary.
Well-shot and lit, the script is just ridiculous with none of the campiness that makes some of Lugosi's best Monogram and PRC potboilers a sheer joy.   It might just be me, but a Poverty Row thriller usually requires a Lugosi or George Zucco with a flea-ridden gorilla suit and dwarf to really deliver the goods.  Too much screen time is padded with the ensemble cast, in their Sunday best, gathering around the breakfast table each morning discussing plot developments.  Willie Best, doing his best Stepinfechit, is on hand to provide bug-eyed comic relief before actually being pivotal in solving the case!
Pretty low-rent goings-on for even a prolific hackster like William Beaudine, the director of DRACULA VS. BILLY THE KID, THE APE MAN and TVs THE GREEN HORNET.  Recommended for Monogram maniacs only (count me as one of them!).  The film is one-fourth of a single-disc quadruple feature from Shout Factory's budget-priced Timeless DVD label.  Picture quality is jittery and overly dark and murky with muffled audio but it's probably the best we'll ever see (there is a disclaimer stating that these are best available masters).  The other MGM sub-licensed titles on this platter include THE SNAKE WOMAN, Edward L. Cahn's FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE and Albert Band's I BURY THE LIVING.

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