Monster on the Campus
Title: Monster on the Campus
Year Of Release: 1958
Running Time: 77 minutes
DVD Released By: Universal Home Entertainment
Directed By: Jack Arnold
Writing Credits: David Duncan
Starring: Arthur Franz, Joanna Moore
1. Co-ed beauty captive of man-monster!
2. Campus terror!
3. Students victims of terror-beast!
Monster in the Night
Stranger on the Campus
Review Date: 7.1.07 (updated 1.1.10)
See alternate poster here.
Shadow's Title: "Moron on the Campus"
Professor Donald Blake – Blake here is a professor at Dunsfield University, teaching anthropology or something along those lines. The point is, he is a science geek. Still, unlike in later decades, that does not automatically preclude the possibility of him scoring a hot chick.
BlakeApe – This is Blake having reverted to an ape-like primitive anthropoid. When like this he makes non-intelligible grunting sounds, walks hunched over, creates a colossal mess everywhere and follows a primitive instinct to pursue women. Not much different from most modern males.
Madeline Howard – Blake’s fiancée. I was never clear as to what exactly she did. She chaperoned a dance at one point, so was she on the university staff or was she just helping out her daddy? She dropped in to see Blake at all hours of the day and night, so it doesn’t appear that she had a job.
Professor Gilbert Howard – Madeline’s father. He is also the big shot that runs Dunsfield University. You know what that means: Blake has to do whatever the old man tells him to do, even if that means working long hours, on weekends or even washing the old guy’s dirty drawers.
Jimmy Flanders – Jimmy acts like he is actually at the university to learn rather than drink beer, smoke pot and get laid. When Blake cancels his classes, Jimmy is actually disappointed. In my day we called people like that Dorks. You know we we call them now? Rich and successfull.
Sylvia Lockwood – This is Jimmy’s loud and chickenshit girlfriend. She doesn’t really add anything to the film other filling the “screaming, frightened woman department.” Proof that the decade of the 1950’s really took a dim view of women and their ability to handle themselves in a crisis.
Dr. Oliver Cole – This guy works for the university. Blake tries to show him the evidence supporting his Ape-man theory, but Cole here has a hard time believing such a tale and pretty much treats Blake like he’s applying for the job of campus idiot (too bad Jimmy already holds it).
Nurse Molly Riordan – Molly here works for Doctor Cole, but her real passion isn’t for medicine, it’s for Professor Blake. She cannot take her eyes off him. She tries her best to put the moves on him, but he doesn’t seem to return her feelings. She drops dead from fright when he goes ape.
Lieutenant Mike Stevens – This is the guy who heads up the case investigating the death of Molly Riordan. He pretty much spends the rest of the movie running around in circles and making about as much progress on the case as a mute on American Idol.
Sergeant Eddie Daniels – Does this guy look like could tear Professor Blake in half? That is exactly how Lieutenant Stevens describes him at one point. He made a piss poor bodyguard. Instead of keeping an eye on Blake, he runs off to make a phone call!
Forest Ranger Tom Edwards – He wasn’t in the film much, but it was the way he exited that makes him worthy of note. Of all the ways for a Forest Ranger to go – mauled by a bear, stung to death by bees, trampled by Deer – being axed by an oversized Monkey had to be the most embarrassing.
Plot Hold your cursor over an image for
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The old Universal International logo greets us as the music swells. Then it’s a fade out to the title card and credits. It’s interesting to note that there is one guy credited solely with “Gowns.” Not wardrobe. Not costumes. Not even clothes wrangler. Gowns. Evidently this was a vital and key component to the film as this dork’s name is sandwiched in between the guy responsible for film editing and the make-up guy. Who would have thought that gowns were so important in an old monster flick? This makes me want to keep an eye out and see just how many gowns can be spotted in the film.
After the credits, we fade in on a street that looks eerily like the Universal back lot. A delivery van pulls up in front of a house and the sign with Greek lettering (Phi Lambda Sigma) makes in clear that it is a fraternity. Then again, there is no boisterous beer-drenched party in progress so I may be wrong. The driver calls for “Samson” and soon enough a large German Shepherd dog runs from the front porch where it had been hanging with some other guys (probably tutoring them) and joins the guy in the van. The vehicle pulls away and we then see it drive under an archway that says Dunsfield University.
We cut to a room within a university building and see a shelf with a series of plaster faces. Each one represents a period in mankind’s evolution. First there is one that is obviously an ape of some sort. Then the camera pans along the shelf and we see Piltdown Man, Peking Man (whose name plaque seems to be missing the letter G), Java Man, Aurignacian Man, Neanderthal Man and Modern Man, which according to many women I have known, could also be interchangeable with that initial ape. Next to Modern Man is a blank plaque labeled Modern Woman.
The camera keeps moving and we see Professor Donald Blake wearing a lab apron (not a gown!) and talking to an immobile woman stretched out on a table nearby. Her face is covered in plaster, making it impossible for her to talk and Blake makes a good natured crack about how her current state (defenseless and silent) makes for the perfect female. He tickles her a bit, which causes her to squirm and make odd sounds. Before she can loose bladder control and flood the place, he stops and removes the plaster cast from her face. Once free from the plaster, we see that the mystery broad is Madeline Howard, Blake’s main squeeze. He tells her how the plaster cast of her face will now adorn the Modern Woman plaque on the wall. He digresses shortly into a rant about how the human race is doomed unless they can evolve past the primitive urges of their animal ancestors. She comes to embrace him and before things can get too sweet, there is a honking sound from outside.
Blake drops everything and heads to the window. He looks out and sees the young guy that was driving the delivery van and his dog. Blake says, “Jimmy, you’re back. Have you got it?” Jimmy answers in the affirmative, but adds that “it” is beginning the thaw. Blake rushes out to help him, but Madeline stops him first and asks what has arrived. Blake informs her that it is a coelacanth and when she wonders what that is, he explains that it is a “fish from Madagascar.” Isn’t that a bit too vague? Would you describe Godzilla as “that lizard from Japan?” No! Not that this fish is huge, but Blake doesn’t even try to explain its significance. Then again, if he had done so, her eyes might have glazed over with that terminally bored look women get when you try to talk to them about anything other than clothes, shoes, jewelry and make-up. She remains inside to finish washing the plaster from her face while he heads outside, a spring in his step and more excited than a kid on Christmas morning.
Outside, Jimmy has opened up the back of the van to reveal a large wooden crate that is covered by a blanket and which is leaking water all over the place. Some of it has dripped out the back of the vehicle and collected in a small puddle. Jimmy looks over and sees his dog, Samson, drinking from this water. He shoos the dig away, telling it to get away from “that bloody water” and promising to get him some fresh water in a minute. Blake arrives to help with the crate, but before they remove it from the van, he pops the top and takes a look at the fish. Jimmy asks if it is really a million years old. The Professor informs him that it isn’t the fish, but the species that is old. Then he launches into a speech about the coelacanth and how it has remained untouched by evolution for millions of years, and on and on and on. Ya know, I think my eyes are glazing over with terminal boredom right about now.
Madeline comes outside now and calls for Blake. A barking draws her attention to Samson, whose teeth are now supersized into some seriously huge fangs. The dog does not seem to be in the best of moods, and growls at her menacingly. The canine charges at her, but she closes the door in time. Meanwhile, Jimmy and Blake hear the commotion, the former jumping out of the van to see what is wrong with his dog. Samson doesn’t waste any time in attacking him, too. I guess he was pissed that he was still waiting for that fresh water! Blake grabs the blanket that was covering the crate and using it like a net, throws it over the dog. Between the two of them, he and Jimmy manage to get the animal wrapped up and moved inside and into a cage.
Later, Blake has taken Jimmy to see Doctor Cole, who is assisted by Nurse Molly Riordan. Jimmy is explaining to the Doc how Samson was behaving, and wonders if his dog is going bonkers. Cole doesn't think that it is rabies, but says that they need to take every precaution. Then he takes a big cotton swab thingie which has been soaked in something and applies it to the bite wound on Jimmy’s arm. The Doctor warns him that it will hurt a little bit. Wait a sec! I thought in ancient times, the prescribed treatment for rabies was a shitload of shots in the gut with a hug needle? All Jimmy gets is some iodine on his cuts? Talk about getting off light!! Doctor Cole says that he wants a sample of the dog’s saliva and since the animal is being kept at Blake’s lab, he’ll send Molly over later than evening to pick it up. Everything settled, Blake exits.
Back at his lab, we see Blake playing with his chemistry set, the crate with the coelacanth open just a few feet away. Shouldn’t that thing be just about completely thawed out by now? Just imagine the smell. It ain’t no little fish by any means. While it isn’t the size of a Marlin, it’s still big enough to produce a mighty stink. Blake wanders around his lab, and the way he rubs his eyes makes it clear he is getting rather tired. He sits at a table to look through a microscope when a sound gets his attention. He looks over at the cage where Samson the dog is being kept and sees the big pooch lapping up some water from a bowl. He walks over to take a closer look, but stops when the dog growls at him and bares its unnaturally large fangs at him.
There is a knock at the door and Nurse Molly enters. Blake hands her the saliva sample for Doctor Cole. She asks him if he has determined if Samson is suffering from rabies. He tells her that he is pretty sure the answer is no. The dog drinks water and is not foaming at the mouth. However there is one odd thing. He shows Molly the large fangs the dog is now sporting and tells her that the animal is a throwback to wolves that lived millions of years ago.
The phone rings and it turns out to be Madeline on the other end. She needs Blake to help her chaperone some dance, so he makes plans to go home, change and then meet her about nine. He then enlists Molly’s aid in returning the coelacanth to the refrigerator, having her open the door for him while he picks up the fish. This he does by sticking one hand in the mouth and using the jaw to help lift. When he sits the fish down in the other room, he cuts his hand on one of the sharp teeth lining the coelacanth’ mouth. Then he walks over to move the crate in which the fish arrived. The crate is still full of bloody water and as he struggles to pull it, his wounded hand slips into the liquid.
Once the crate is put away, he starts sucking on his wound, which only causes Nurse Molly to chastise him for doing so. She asks where his first aid kit is and when he admits to not having one, tells him that she has one in her car. He removes his lab coat (not a gown!) and grabs his jacket. By the time they get to the car, he is not looking very good and is obviously feeling rather crappy. He asks Molly to take him home. She puts him in the passenger seat and away they go. It should be noted that the entire time she has been visiting him, she has been doing her best to flirt with him, going so far as to call him Donald on several occasions. So far he has resisted her attempts, but no doubt asking her to take him home was just what she wanted to hear!
When they get to his place, he has lost consciousness and cannot be roused. She heads on in and finds the phone. With her back to the door, she cannot see the knob turn and someone entering the house behind her. Someone with really hairy hands. She does hear the door squeak, so she turns around, thinking Blake has walked in. Alas, what she sees is left up to the imagination at this point. We just see her reaction. Well, it’s more like we hear her reaction, as she opens her mouth and lets loose with a big scream.
Now we see Professor Gilbert Howard walking in his front door. Inside he spies his daughter, Madeline. He asks her why she is still there, as she was supposed to chaperone some dance. She explains that she is waiting for his “future son in law.” Figuring what is holding Blake up, he just says, “It’s not every day that the science department gets a coelacanth.” Then the Professor talks about how much good the fish will do to the school, despite some board members not being keen on the idea of acquiring it (Doctor Cole being one). With every paper in the nation reporting on how the university was able to get the fish from Madagascar, the alumni donations should be considerable. He babbles on some more but fortunately is interrupted by the phone ringing.
Madeline answers, but it’s just someone trying to convince her to get her ass to the dance. Her father suggests driving by the science building to see Blake, as he is no doubt caught up in some experiment. Then she remembers what happened with Samson the dog and explains that to her father before leaving.
She arrives at the science building and is startled out front by Townsend, the old janitor. He escorts her inside to find Blake. They search through the lab and the classroom, but the Professor is no where to be seen. Townsend notices Samson in his cage and walks over to see the dog. He goes to pet Samson, but Madeline warns him not to do so, as the dog is vicious. Not believing her, he lowers his hand through the bars and strokes the animal’s head. Samson is now the epitome of a friendly, happy dog. Madeline is puzzled, as just earlier that day the dog was more vicious than a horde of paparazzi stalking Paris Hilton. Seeing that Blake is not around, she thanks Townsend for his help and leaves. The old janitor continues to pet and talk to the dog as she exits.
Next we see her pulling up at Blake’s house. Walking up to the front door, she notices the car in the driveway, peeks under the driver’s seat visor long enough to see the registration and sees that the car belongs to Molly Riordan. Continuing to the door, she finds it still open, so she slowly enters. Inside the place is a total mess: furniture has been turned over and smashed, upholsteries ripped and torn, and wall mounted ornaments hanging at loose angles. At this point she is probably thinking one of three things:
A. Donald and Molly just got done having some wild, slap me til it hurts, pull my hair out, scratch til it bleeds monkey sex…and had it all over the damn house.
B. The boys over at Phi Lambda Sigma stopped by for a social visit and a keg party spontaneously broke out.
C. The maid was drunk off her ass again and in a resentful mood as she carried out her duties.
So Madeline calls out to Blake and begins poking around. She finds his discarded jacket and then grabs the phone and summons the police. Hanging up, she hears an odd sound and makes her way through the house. At one point she finds a picture of herself that has been ripped into two pieces. Finally some moans draw her to the back yard, where Blake is rolling around on the grass, his shirt torn and ripped. She runs to him and helps him, but has her back turned to the tree, so she cannot see the body of Molly Riordan hanging by its hair from one of the branches. Blake sees it, though and reacts in horror. Madeline then turns to see what he was looking at and lets out a scream when she spies the corpse.
Out in front of the house, two recently arrived police detectives hear her scream and rush towards the back. I have to say, those cops got there DAMN fast. It has been all of sixty-five seconds since she got off the phone, yet here they are. There must have been a donut shop right down the block or something for them to have gotten there so fast. Anyway, they run around back and see Blake and Madeline. When they ask if they had called the police, Blake just turns and points at Molly’s body. The two cops then pull the body down. Wait! Wouldn’t you leave it there until the forensics guys could get a good look at the scene? They lower the body to the ground and just let it sit there, propped up against the tree. WTF? Why not just let it stay where it was? Talk about possibly disturbing vital clues!
Now we move inside where Lieutenant Mike Stevens is on the phone with his cohorts back at the station. We also see that the coroner’s department has arrived. Lieutenant Stevens walks over to Blake, who is leaning against the fireplace mantle and being comforted by Madeline, and starts going over the facts of the night’s events. Blake recounts how Molly came to his lab to get the saliva samples, they put the coelacanth away, he cut his hand on its teeth, how she had a first aid kit in her car and…that’s all he can remember. He reasons he either blacked out or was knocked out. Stevens asks if his head hurts and Blake says no, but reveals that he does feel ill, as if poisoned. The Lieutenant implies that he should feel that way if he was present when Molly died. Blake reminds him that he was unconscious when that occurred.
Sergeant Eddie Daniels walks up now and shows something that was found in the dead woman’s hand: a tie clasp that she most likely ripped away when struggling with the killer. Stevens presents it to Blake and asks if he recognizes it. The professor says yes that it belongs to him. Madeline chimes in now and tries to make out like it is not his, but Blake sees through her attempts at trying to protect him and insists that he has nothing to hide. Then Daniels takes him away to the police station to either take his official statement or book him. Madeline advises him to say nothing until he has consulted with a lawyer, but Blake again stresses that he has done nothing and is innocent.
About now, Sergeant Powell walks in and calls Lieutenant Stevens to come take a look at something. As they walk off, Molly’s body is wheeled out past Madeline on a stretcher. Sergeant Powell takes Stevens into the bedroom and shows him the ripped photo of Madeline. Reasoning that whoever it was that tore it must have left fingerprints behind, he had it dusted and low and behold, there are the prints. Powell shows Stevens a comparison of the thumb print on the photo to one taken from Blake just a few moments earlier and there is no resemblance whatsoever. Stevens realizes that there was a third person in the house that night, and from the look of the mess left behind, was someone that hated professor Blake. Sergeant Powell then says that whoever this mystery killer was, he never tried to conceal his presence and then shows the Lieutenant a full hand print left on a glass door. The print seems deformed and it’s plain to see that Blake could not have made it…nor most other people, for that matter. Steven notes how this should help narrow their search down.
The Lieutenant now finds Madeline again and asks if Blake had any enemies. She says no and he discloses to her that there was a third person in the house that night. Someone who tore up her photo and is assumed to be Molly’s killer. This means that Blake is pretty much in the clear. While Stevens would like him to stick around for further questioning, he is no longer a suspect and is free to do what he wants. Madeline thanks him and runs off to find Blake.
Sometime later – maybe the next day, maybe a few days later – Professor Blake is teaching one of his classes and has the coelacanth out on display for the students to see. It should be noted that he is wearing a white lab coat, but in no way can it be classified as a gown. We endure him rattling on a wee bit about how mankind is the only species capable of choosing the direction evolutionary change may take, then he dismisses the class. All the students file out except for Jimmy and a girl named Sylvia. Jimmy asks the Professor how Samson is doing, so Blake puts the coelacanth away and leads the students into his office, where the dog is being kept.
Already there is Doctor Cole and Madeline. Cole announces that whatever had afflicted Samson, it was not rabies. It seems the dog is just fine. Jimmy wants to take him back to the frat house, but Blake wants to keep him and runs some more tests. The Professor mentions the huge fangs he had noticed earlier and tells Jimmy that his dog is a throwback. He goes to show everyone the oversized teeth, but naturally, the dog no longer has them. Doctor Cole does not believe that physical changes could have occurred overnight (that clears up how much time has passed since the murder). Blake says that he pointed out the dog’s teeth to Molly Riordan, but of course, she is no longer around to verify it. Blake just chalks it up to his imagination and Cole concedes that he did have a rather stressful night. At this point Cole leaves, followed quickly by Jimmy and Sylvia.
Blake turns to Madeline and states that he did not imagine those big teeth on Samson. She questions his certainty, but he is adamant that the dog possessed giant fangs the night before. They discuss it briefly for a few more seconds and then Madeline asks if her mask is ready. Blake answers in the affirmative and takes her to the lab where he shows here the “Modern Woman” plaster cast he has made from the mold taken from her face. This is the excuse he needs to launch into another speech about man’s future. He mentions how civilization is not inherited, but learned and how humanity is one generation away from reverting to animals if it were taken away. This seems to creep Madeline out and she says that she would rather talk about something else, especially in light of what happened to Molly Riordan.
At this point, she says that there is something she wants to ask him. Uh oh. That is never a good sign coming from a woman. It usually precedes one of those trick questions that men can never in a million years hope to answer to their satisfaction, like “do you still find me attractive?” or even worse “does this outfit make me look fat?” No doubt thinking about Molly’s presence at his house the night before, she asks if there was anything between them. Blake admits that Molly was very attractive, but that there was nothing between them (technically, this would be quite true if they were both nekkid and engaged in the mattress mambo, but I digress). Now, I ask all the men out there…what freakin’ idiot would answer yes to this one, even if it were true? Of course he’s going to say no! Happy that she heard what she wanted to hear, Madeline leaves. On her way out she meets Lieutenant Stevens, who asks where he can find Blake. She points him towards the lab and moves on.
Stevens enters to see Blake placing his new Modern Woman cast on the shelf. When he sees the Lieutenant, Blake asks if there is any news, but Stevens just shakes his head and says no. They head into Blake’s office where the police detective asks him if he is sure that he does not have any enemies. Blake says no, but Stevens points out that the killer had no idea that Molly Riordan would be at his house the previous night, thus logic says that the murderer was after Blake. The Professor wonders if it was just a burglar caught in the act, but the Lieutenant points out that nothing was taken. Blake asks about the fingerprints that were found and Steven says they have found no local match so they sent them to the FBI. In the mean time, he wants to assign a bodyguard to Blake. Then he reveals that the coroner’s report on Molly came in earlier that day. It turns out Molly was not injured at all, aside from a few minor cuts and scrapes. What killed her was heart failure. “In other words, she died of fright,” Stevens proclaims. Then he says that he’ll keep Sergeant Eddie Daniels close to him until the matter is cleared up. With that he exits, leaving Blake to ponder the situation. It should be noted that during this entire exchange, Blake lights and smokes from a pipe. Remember that, it’ll be important later.
of Sergeant Eddie Daniels, we see him sitting in one the lab’s
student desks, reading a paper and trying not to go insane from boredom.
Nearby, the coelacanth lies on a table (seriously, with the amount of
time this thing has sat out in the open, it should be quite thawed and
stinky by now) while Blake works with a microscope at another workstation.
Daniels gets up, walks around a bit and talks to Blake about science.
Then he points out something on the coelacanth. Blake takes a closer
look and sees that it is a dragonfly that flew in through the window.
He shoos it away and returns to work.
As they walk across campus, they see Jimmy and Sylvia. Jimmy asks about Samson and Blake says to meet him back at the science building in one hour. When Blake and Daniels have moved on, Jimmy turns to Sylvia and wonders what it would be like to have the police guarding you. They walk on and suddenly hear a strange buzzing sound. Not sure what it is, Jimmy says it sounds like a model airplane, but knows that no one would be flying one at night. Sylvia thinks she saw something move past the street light that is located several yards away, so they creep behind a tree to covertly observe the area. However, the sound is now gone and realizing they are alone, Jimmy moves in for a kiss. As they smooch, a hand can be seen behind them. It reaches out and begins to stroke her hair. She lets out a scream, but it turns out to be nothing more than another young couple necking nearby.
In Doctor Cole’s office, Blake is showing him the slide he has brought, which he claims has crystallized bacteria on it. Cole claims that such a thing is not possible. So he takes a look. Surprise, surprise: there is no crystallization. Blake is shocked, as he saw the crystals just fifteen minutes earlier. He tries to explain, but Cole isn’t listening. The Doctor wants to take a swab sample from the cut on Blake’s arm, and when he hears that it was caused by the coelacanth, jokingly asks Blake if it came to life and crept up on him while he wasn’t looking. Annoyed that Cole isn’t listening to him and being a smartass, Blake walks out.
He and Daniels arrive at the science building, where Jimmy and Sylvia are waiting on the front steps. Jimmy asks if he can get his dog now. Blake says sure, since there is no problem whatsoever with the dog. Somewhat sarcastically he says that they must have just imagined the attack from yesterday. Jimmy admits that he has been thinking the same thing. Let me get this straight…Jimmy is beginning to suspect that he and the Professor just imagined Samson attacking them? Is he an idiot of some sort? What do you call those teeth marks in your arm, you moron? As Blake leads the two students inside, Daniels informs him that he is going to check in with his superiors on the call box and won’t be long.
In the lab, they hear that strange buzzing sound again. Jimmy notes that it’s the same sound they heard earlier. Sylvia notices that there is something outside, tapping at the window. Whatever it is, it cannot be seen due to the blinds being shut. Blake walks over, pulls up the shades and MUSICAL CUE, there is a giant dragonfly hovering right outside. Naturally, Sylvia lets out a scream, as if this thing was pointing a gun at them and about to come crashing through the glass to demand she turn over the contents of her purse. The big insect seems to fly off, so Blake opens the window. He peers outside then warns the other to “get back!” The bug comes flying in through the open window and settles atop one of the plaster heads high on the shelf (Sylvia screams again as it flies over them).
wants to run out of the room, but Blake won’t let her open the
door, fearing the dragonfly will escape. He claims he wants to catch
it and has Jimmy close the window and fetch some netting nearby. Then
he opens the freezer door and wheels out the coelacanth, hoping to use
it as bait. He backs away and takes up the net along with Jimmy while
the dragonfly hops down and settles on the fish. They throw the net
over the bug and it begins to flap its oversized wings. A ripping sound
can be heard. Jimmy warns that the insect might escape, so Blake grabs
some long sharp instrument that resembles a big knife and stabs it.
It shakes a little bit then expires.
Blake now picks up the dead dragonfly by grasping the knife on which it is impaled and picking it up. As he moves, we see that the knife is sticking out of the bottom of the creature’s body. Blake walks to his desk and sets his pipe down. As he is clearing room to place the insect, blood drips from the knife and into his pipe. Naturally, he is unaware of this. He puts the coelacanth back in the freezer then takes the big bug into his office, where he sits it on the desk and removes the knife. You’d think that examining it would be better conducted in the lab, at a workstation and not at his desk, where the blood and ichor could drip all over his stuff.
He grabs a book along with his pipe and sits down. He lights up and takes a few tokes before noticing something odd about the flavor of his tobacco. Ignoring it, he opens the book and begins searching through its pages for something. All too soon, he stops and begins to look ill, as if he just ate something really gross - like anything off the Taco Bell menu. He looks at the big bug on his desk and we suddenly get a POV shot from his perspective. This comes complete with blurred images to denote his queasiness….or maybe it’s my drowsiness kicking in as I wait for something to happen in this film! He sits there making faces much more akin to someone on the crapper trying to pass something from the Taco Bell menu and also lets out some grunts. These sounds become deeper and more growl-like as the seconds tick by. We also get another POV shot (despite his eyes being quite closed) that show the big dragonfly shrinking back to its original size. A hairy hand now reaches over and squishes the insect.
Right about now, if you’re like me, you’re asking one thing: where the f*ck is Sergeant Daniels? Did that call into headquarters need to take place at the local donut shop? In the time he’s been gone, a giant mutated bug has menaced three people, been caught, killed and reverted to normal. Didn’t Sylvia’s annoying screams during that mess even draw his attention? Additionally, Blake has undergone a transformation after smoking his coelacanth blood-tainted tobacco, but Daniels is no where to be seen. Is he still making that call? Is he taking a leak in the bushes? Perhaps he is nursing a big black coffee and a couple of crullers at this very moment?
Well, good old Sergeant Daniels is making his way back to the science building when he hears the sounds of glass breaking. He runs inside, but the lab doors are locked. He pulls out his gun and eases over to the door leading to Blake’s office, which has frosted glass set within it. As he approaches, something comes crashing through the glass to land on the floor. A closer look reveals it to be the remains of a plaster cast head (it looks like the gorilla that was at the very end). Daniels rushes into the office, but there is no longer anyone there. There is however, a colossal mess. He runs into the lab and finds the same thing. Seeing that whoever wrecked the place just exited through a broken window, Daniels follows suit and jumps through it as well. On the lawn he finds a discarded shoe, no doubt belonging to Professor Blake.
So now Sergeant Daniels takes off running. A short ways down the path, he spies someone in the distance. Someone with torn clothing and lots and lots of body hair. He fires his gun into the air and calls for the figure to stop, but it just races away into the night. Daniels gives chase, but cannot locate the figure.
Now comes a rather effective scene. Daniels finds a police call box. No, not like the Tardis. This thing isn’t anywhere near as big. It’s basically just a phone in a locked box, sitting atop a short post. He unlocks it and calls in to headquarters, asking for every available car and officer. He informs Lieutenant Mike Stevens that he has lost Blake, but did follow someone through the dark. For the most part he has his back to the well-lit street, so he cannot see that someone is slowly creeping up on him. We cannot really see who it is, either, but the way the lights are situated, the shadow cast by this person can be seen well in advance. It’s a rather creepy moment, when the audience knows something bad is about to happen, but the character is ignorant of his imminent demise.
Call it intuition, call it luck or just call it a convenient moment in the script, but Daniels realizes that something is wrong and slowly turns around. Once again, we don’t get to see what he sees, just his reaction to it (which I will be the first to admit, is often creepier and helps fire the imagination). He lets out a scream of surprise and terror as a hairy hand grabs him by the face and pulls him away from the phone. At the police station, Lieutenant Stevens asks if he is all right, but there is no answer forthcoming.
The next thing we know, the cops are on the scene and the guys from the coroner’s office have arrived to collect Daniel’s body. Sergeant Powell points out to Lieutenant Stevens that Daniels put up one hell of a fight before succumbing to his attacker. He also points out some weird tracks in the dirt nearby. Someone barefoot obviously made them, but whoever it was had really strange feet. Stevens figures it’s the same guy who has strange hands (and left his prints all over Blake’s house) and when Powell wonders where such an individual may be hiding, notes that it is their job to find him.
We now see the bare feet of someone stretched out on some grass. The camera pans up and we see that it’s Blake. He moans groggily as he comes to after his late night jaunt around the campus. He stands up and notices with a puzzled expression that his shirt is all torn. He makes his way back to his lab and sees the mess there. As he picks up his discarded shoe, sirens begin to wail in the distance.
Now we see the headline of a newspaper that reads, “Beast Of Dunsfield Still At Large.” Some smaller print also says, “Clues Point To Subhuman…Declares Professor Donald Blake.” The man holding the newspaper is Professor Howard and his daughter, Blake and Lieutenant Stevens accompany him. Blake says that the tracks could not have been made by a human, but by something that should have been extinct over half a million years ago – “A beast far more intelligent than an ape and yet, not quite Human.” I dunno, I can think of several of my neighbors and co-workers that fit that description, not to mention members of the extended family.
Professor Howard thinks the whole notion is utterly ridiculous and believes the police have been fooled by tracks than have been faked. Stevens admits that he knows the prints could have been faked. Furthermore he knows who has the knowledge to fake them – Blake. Still, he doesn’t believe that Blake has the strength or skill to have killed Eddie Daniels, who “could tear Blake in half,” according to the Lieutenant. Expounding further on his ideas, Stevens says that he doesn’t think Blake would have wrecked his own lab. Plus, while the footprints may have been faked, the fingerprints found in Blake’s home were quite real, and did not belong to Blake. No, the killer is trying to implicate Blake. That is why the tie clasp was planted on Molly Riordan’s body and the odd footprints were left behind. The trouble is, the cops still have no idea who it may be, as the fingerprints have not been matched by them, the FBI or the Department of Motor Vehicles. At this point Blake then excuses himself and returns to his office.
Once in his office, Blake wastes no time in placing a call to a Doctor Jean Moreau at the Scientific Research Institute at Tananarive (Madagascar), having the cost for such a long distance call charged to the science department.
Some time later, a large group of students, including Jimmy and Sylvia, enter the lab and see Blake working around the coelacanth. The professor wonders why they are there and they explain that it is two o’clock on Thursday – the usual time for lab class. Blake explains that he is engaged in something important that he cannot leave, so class is cancelled. All the students seem thrilled and leave, except for Jimmy. He has Blake’s pipe and returns it to him, explaining that he found it on the lawn were Sergeant Daniels was killed. Blake offers some explanation about having dropped it when he blacked out and then thanks Jimmy for it. The student leaves and runs into Madeline on his way out of the building. She asks if class is out already, but he explains that they have all been dismissed, just like yesterday.
Madeline enters the lab where Blake takes no notice of her until she points out that she isn’t one of his students. He apologizes but claims to be very busy. He’s on to something that may change they way we view life. He holds up a beaker and says that it contains a distillate of coelacanth blood. He notes the odd smell and says he can’t recall where he has smelled it before (in your pipe, you dolt!!). Madeline tells him that her father is quite displeased with the story Blake gave to the newspapers about a subhuman hiding at Dunsfield. The old guy is going to be even more upset when he learns that Blake has been dismissing all his classes. After all, Blake was hired to teach, not play mad scientist. Blake doesn’t want to teach theories that he is about to disprove and is sure he can prove that the subhuman really does exist. She thinks he needs a rest, as both times a death occurred, he blacked out. He states that he won’t rest until he has found the killer, despite that being a job for the cops and not him. Then the phone rings and he excuses himself.
He heads into his office and takes the call, which is from that Doctor in Madagascar. He asks Madeline to close the door, which she does right before leaving, but not before eavesdropping for a few seconds on his conversation. Blake wants to know how the coelacanth was preserved and is willing wait on the line until Doctor Moreau can call the Comoros Islands. He even offers to have the university pay the charges for the call.
Madeline is now over at her Father’s place, telling him that she heard Blake calling Madagascar about a fish. Professor Howard does not seem too pleased about it and calls the phone operator to determine if Blake is still on the line. In fact he is, and at five bucks a minute, the seventy-six minutes he has been on for so far is equal to a month’s salary (sheesh, I make that much in less than two days)! Professor Howard now calls Doctor Cole and asks him to come over immediately as they need to see Blake. Howard is going to recommend a leave of absence for Blake which, nutty behavior aside, would be warranted for making calls to Madagascar.
Back in his office, Blake is finishing up his call to Doctor Moreau. He double checks the degree of radiation used in the preservation of the coelacanth and then finally hangs up the phone. None too soon, I might add, as a few seconds later Professor Howard and Doctor Cole come strolling in through the door. Blake says that it is good that they are here, as there is something he wants to show them. First, Howard wants to talk to him about the eighty-eight minutes he just spent on the phone to Madagascar. Yikes, Blake just racked up a phone bill for $440, which would be equal to $3043.17 in 2006 dollars! Damn, that is a month’s salary! Blake says that he will pay the bill himself, he just wants them to come into the lab to see something.
Professor Howard wants him to forget the phone bill and just take a leave of absence…at least, until the police have everything cleared up. Blake asks what the cops are doing and Howard somewhat embarrassingly says that they are fingerprinting the football squad. Blake remarks that at that rate he should be gone all year. He goes on to say that if the police won’t accept his idea of a throwback running around, he will have to find this man himself. Cole wants to know if Blake is ready to name this mystery person, but Blake says he doesn’t know who it is, just that he can show them the secret to his metamorphosis. Cole doesn’t want to encourage any more nonsense, but Blake is adamant that he get a chance to show them what he has discovered. Howard agrees and also concurs with Blake’s suggestion of calling Lieutenant Stevens over to be present as well.
Howard now summons the police and then Blake launches into his spiel. He poses the question as to how some species can resist the forces of evolution. His answer is in a beaker of coelacanth blood plasma. Not only does the plasma resist evolution, but when applied to another organism, evolution is reversed. When Jimmy’s dog Samson drank the bloody water, he reverted to the behavior and appearance of a primitive wolf (the dog, not Jimmy). At this point Howard and Cole exchange looks that make it clear that they believe Blake has completely flipped his wig. Oblivious, Blake continues on, mentioning the dragonfly that became two feet long after ingesting coelacanth blood. He now wants to show them how this plasma will cause bacteria to crystallize. Cole asks if Blake thinks the same effect would occur with human beings, to which Blake answers yes. Anyone injected with the plasma would revert to a primitive anthropoid.
Cole now points out a flaw in Blake’s theory: the natives of the Comoros Islands – where the coelacanth was caught – have been eating the breed of fish for centuries, with no ill effects. Blake admits this is true, but says that the specimen they have has been treated with gamma rays to help preserve it for shipment (the radiation will kill the bacteria, which causes decay). This in fact was the reason he called Madagascar, to verify the preservation method. He then waxes philosophical about man’s greatest discovery being a way to change back into a beast again. He adds that this is what has happened at their university.
Professor Howard wants to know how anyone could discover that fact, given that this theory is even correct. Blake says that it was probably by accident the first time. Someone may have entered the lab and cut himself on the sharp scales of the fish and become inoculated. Or maybe they cut themselves on the teeth. When he says that last bit, we see him suddenly look at his hand in alarm, no doubt remembering that he himself cut his hand on those teeth. He then says that the second time the change took place would have to have been deliberate, as there could not have been two accidents. With that he takes his pipe out of his lab coat’s pocket and sticks it in his mouth. A few seconds later he begins to look at it funny, probably recalling the funny tastes his tobacco had the other night. Cole mumbles something about the whole affair being highly improbable. Blake adds that it would be about as improbable as “life itself.”
Lieutenant Stevens now enters and announces that the police won’t have to arrest any of the students. Then he asks for further information about what Howard told him over the phone – that Blake could produce a subhuman man. Cole confirms that Blake claimed the plasma could transform a man into a missing link. At this point, realization of the horrible truth is starting to dawn on Blake and he quickly covers his ass by saying that was an exaggeration. Professor Howard wants him to admit that his expensive phone calls, the story he gave the cops –everything – was just a way for him to gain some publicity. Blake says he will admit to no such thing, but readily agrees that he may be ill and needs some rest. He asks for that leave of absence. Howard asks Stevens if that is ok with the cops and the Lieutenant says that the police would be happy to work on the case without Blake’s help. Howard offers the use of his mountain cabin as a place to relax. Blake agrees and thanks him.
We now are at the mountain cabin, where Blake is inside talking into a tape recorder (that’s about the size of a freakin’ suitcase, damn!). He says that all the evidence points to him being the murderer. As a scientist, he must learn if this is true or not and has devised and experiment to determine this.
We cut back to the campus where Jimmy and Sylvia have come to see Madeline. She invites them in and Jimmy somewhat reluctantly tells her about the giant dragonfly and the promise they made to Blake to not mention it until he had a chance to study it. Madeline thinks the dragonfly was just a figment of Blake’s imagination, but the two students confirm that it was quite real and that they both saw it. They feel that if a giant dragonfly was real, the stories about a primitive man could be true as well. They wanted to share this since there is talk amongst the students of Professor Blake being crazy and they wanted to back him up. Madeline thanks them for telling her the truth and quickly gets on the phone to her father. She tells him that she is driving up at once to see Blake.
Back at the cabin, Blake has set up a series of strings and cameras around the place. He turns the tape recorder on again and outlines how he will momentarily inject coelacanth blood plasma into his bloodstream. A knock at the door makes him stop. It turns out to be Forest Ranger Tom Edwards, who saw the light on and wanted to see if Professor Howard was there. Blake explains who he is and says that Howard is letting him use the place for a few days. Edwards says that if he needs anything, his station is just down the road a ways.
After the Ranger has gone, Blake returns to his tape recorder and cues it up where he had left off. He rolls up his sleeve in preparation and says that any sounds recorded thereafter would be made under the influence of the plasma. Then he takes a syringe, draws some of the plasma from a beaker, sits down and injects himself with it. The camera begins to zoom in on the recording device and there is a brief instant where you can see the camera operator’s shadow. Blake’s breathing gets heavier and in a sequence of dissolves between key frames, we see him slowly transforming into a hairy subhuman.
A quick cutaway shows us Madeline in her car, on her way up to the cabin to see Blake.
Returning to Blake, we see that he has fully transformed into an ape-like subhuman, his face looking more like a pissed off Curious George than a human. He gets up and starts trashing the place . In doing so, he trips the strings that he earlier attached to his arm and strung across the room. These cause the cameras to snap photos of him. The flashing light from the bulb only enrages him and causes him to go apeshit even more. He finds a small hatchet, used for chopping kindling and waves it around some, seeming to like the look and feel of this potential weapon. He uses it to break one of the windows and escape to the outside. After a brief attempt at articulating his feelings, he takes off running across the countryside.
- It is at this point that the movie enters its final segment, so if
any of you really feel the need to watch this film and not know the
ending ahead of time, skip the rest of this section.
BlakeApe now scoops up Madeline and carries her away. Ranger Edwards makes it back to his station where he gets a flashlight and gun, then calls the Dunsfield police. He tells Lieutenant Stevens who he is and where he is, then ads that he saw the monster. He says that he is going back to help (since he didn’t have his gun earlier) and implores them to hurry to his location. Then he hangs up and runs out the door.
BlakeApe is hurrying through the brush with the unconscious Madeline. Ranger Edwards arrives back at the scene of the car crash and sees that Madeline is gone. A quick cutaway shows the cops, accompanied by Professor Howard, on their way to the cabin, then it’s back to BlakeApe carrying Madeline up a hillside. He gently places her down and strokes her face. We now see Ranger Edwards at Professor Howard’s cabin. He bangs on the door and calls for Blake, but of course there is no answer. He sees the broken window and climbs inside. He quickly notes the mess then runs back outside, calling for Blake.
BlakeApe hears the loud Ranger and takes a few steps away from Madeline. This is when she wakes up and upon seeing him, screams. She tries to run away, but BlakeApe catches her quite easily. However, her screams have caught Ranger Edwards’ attention and he comes hauling ass up the hill. Madeline struggles and is rendered unconscious again (either that or she fainted from smelling his pungent monkey-ass odor). BlakeApe carries her back to where he had laid her down earlier while Edwards is coming up from behind him. He steps on an old dry tree branch and the loud snap gets BlakeApe’s attention. He approaches the Ranger, who fires his gun, hitting BlakeApe in the shoulder. BlakeApe then takes his stolen hatchet and hurls it at the Ranger, striking him square in the head. Poor Edwards, a hatchet now lodged in his skull, grabs at it and falls back down the hill.
While this is happening, Madeline has once again come to and begun to run away. This time she manages to outdistance BlakeApe, who begins groaning and falls to the ground after a few steps. She makes it to the cabin, where she calls frantically for Blake. She runs inside, slams the door shut and then sees the mess. She calls out, “Donald!” a couple more times then screams as the front door opens and in comes…Blake. Having returned to normal, he returned to the cabin. He comforts her as she cries. She wants confirmation that he shot and killed the Ape-man, completely oblivious to the fact that her fiancée is wearing the exact same ripped clothes that the monster was sporting just a few moments ago. Well, she is blonde. What do you expect? Blake can only take notice of the fact that his camera system seems to have worked and that it snapped a picture of him after he injected the coelacanth plasma.
The cops have now arrived at the Ranger Station, but it is empty. They continue on up to Howard’s cabin, where Blake is developing the photo. It clearly shows the Ape-man reacting to the flash of the camera. Madeline looks at the photo and remarks, “Donald, he’s wearing your clothes.” What an idiot. Can’t she put two and two together and realize the truth? Especially after all the speeches Blake made about what was happening? Is she really that dense or is she just in complete denial? Whatever the case, the cops and Professor Howard now arrive.
Madeline embraces her father while Lieutenant Stevens relates how he got a call from the Ranger, saying that she had been carried off by the monster. She said it was true but that Donald had killed him. Stevens turns to Blake and asks if that is true, but before he can answer, she interrupts and says, “of course it’s true!” Yep, she knows the truth and is trying to cover for him again. Blake however, seems to have some ethics and says that she is wrong and that the monster is not dead. He adds that he knows where it hides and can lead them to it. The cops are anxious for him to do just that, but first he gets another syringe full of plasma and then insists that Madeline stay at the cabin, saying that because she is still alive, that beast must have loved her somewhat. Then he leaves with the others.
Blake leads them back out into the darkened countryside, where they come across the body of Ranger Edwards. Blake says that he will drive out the monster, but he must do it alone. He wants the others to follow at a distance. When they see the beast, they are to shoot to kill. Professor Howard thinks it is all craziness, so Blake has the older man join him. The cops try to give Blake a gun, but he refuses, letting Howard take it. With that the two walk up the hill, leaving the cops at the bottom.
Partway up the hill, Blake points out some footprints to Howard and asks if a man could have made those. They talk some and Blake says the monster will be coming in just a few minutes. Blake starts babbling about the savage within mankind that science must defeat if humanity is to survive. Blah, blah blah. He pulls out his needle and despite the pleas of Howard for him not to do so, he inject himself, telling the other man that the will soon see evolution in reverse. Within seconds, Blake has once again become BlakeApe! He turns, grunts at Howard and begins to approach. Howard runs away as the cops approach. He yells at them not to shoot, but Steven manages to fire and hit BlakeApe five times. BlakeApe falls and rolls down the hill, coming to rest face up at the bottom.
The three men now assemble around the body. Stevens remarks that Blake was right all the time about there being a subhuman monster doing the killing, and then wonders where Blake is. “He’s there,” replies Howard, looking at the monster’s corpse. The three take a closer look and in another series of dissolves, the beast transforms back into good old, foolish Donald Blake.
The three men gather around Blake’s still form, the camera pulls back, the music swells and we are now told that this is…
The basic story here is a spin on the old Jekyll and Hyde motif, with one man unknowingly (at first) playing host to a murderous, rampaging alter ego. Here that darker half is an almost mindless animal, possessing only the most rudimentary levels of intelligence and driven more by pure instinct than anything else. Setting the story at a university campus is a great way of modernizing the tale, while making the protagonist a professor of anthropology adds an ironic twist. Who better to turn into a primitive anthropoid than a man who studies and teaches such things?
Where things begin to fall apart is the method by which Blake is transformed into a primitive Ape-man. First off, the notion that irradiated coelacanth blood could effect such a change is just flat out ludicrous. This explanation may have been more acceptable to audiences then (in other words, the scientifically ignorant), but now it just is flat out comical. Once again radiation is to blame in some capacity. Plus, the notion that the fish blood possesses some dormant quality that allowed the species to resist evolution, and that the gamma radiation somehow activates this stuff in such a manner that introducing it into another organism causes evolution to reverse itself is…well, it’s just flat out goofy. It’s the exact type of silly, half-baked, radiation-inspired explanation for which 50’s science fiction movies are known. It would seem to me that resisting evolution would mean the extinction of the species. Either that or the fish really had no reason to evolve in the first place and its environment did not change in millions of years, thus provoking no changes.
In addition to the ludicrous set up for Blake’s transformations are the circumstances allowing them to take place. The first two times are strictly coincidence, and while once may be believed by audiences, two such occasions are almost ridiculous, especially with the convoluted hoops he must unknowingly jump through in order for the changes to occur. Even more unbelievable than that, are his reactions to the circumstances surrounding each change. Sure, he retains no memory of what happened, but it sure does take him an awfully long time to come to the conclusion that it is he and not some other person, that is transforming into an Ape-man. This is especially true once he puts forth the theory that just such a transformation is taking place with someone else. Never mind the times he wakes up with torn clothes or how personal possessions wind up near the bodies of those who die, he still cannot put two and two together and realize that he is the guilty party. As astounding as that is, even more wild is his reaction upon learning the truth. Rather than quietly put the whole thing behind him and let things remain a mystery since the police do not suspect him at all, or even coming forward with his evidence and explaining how he is not completely at fault, he gets this wild hair up his butt and is convinced that in order for things to be set straight, he must die. What an idiot! The self-sacrifice when circumstances don’t really call for one causes the film to end on a puzzled note. The viewer is left wondering why he chose that path when there were easier ways to resolve the situation.
Despite some goofy hoops to jump through in order for the story to work, the film itself is crafted quite well. The pace of the film is good, with things getting off to a quick start when Blake makes his first transformation just over eleven minutes into the movie. From there the mystery takes over and things move along nicely thanks to a script that knows when to go for talk and when to go for some monster action, as well as editing that helps lend the proper atmosphere to certain scenes. Director Jack Arnold’s use of several different camera angles is one of the standout elements to the technical side of things. Seeing Molly hanging from a tree by her hair or seeing the shadow creeping up on Sergeant Daniels are two such moments that really add atmosphere to the movie.
The FX are kept to a minimum and this allows the characters to help drive the story forward, rather than set pieces or extended action scenes. While this is often a good thing, here the character development – which is all quite good – is not balanced very well by the monster action, which tends to be rather tame and lethargic. Perhaps Arnold was going for a more atmospheric feel than overt horror, but the results are rather lackluster, almost clinical in their by the numbers execution.
In the end, this is a movie that had an interesting idea, a somewhat new approach to an old idea and very little that makes any of it truly stand out of the 1950’s horror movie pack. The characters manage to come off as genuine and are not too flat, but the events they are put through are what I would call less than exciting. Things are all very predictable and unless you love this era of filmmaking, you might find it a tad bit on the boring side. However, for those who enjoy movies from this era and are familiar with their pedigree, then this is a fun film. In technical terms, the movie is pretty well made with the only cheezy aspects being that big dragonfly or the coelacanth that is hauled out at every opportunity. Even the Ape-man make-up is decent enough for the time period, if not exactly cutting edge. I suppose this movie’s greatest stumbling block for modern audiences is the skill that went into making it. It is by no means a cheap, poorly conceived and executed film like so many others from that time period. Indeed, there is quite a bit of competence both behind and in front of the camera. The problem is, everyone has an off day and this movie seems like the culmination of several people’s off days. The talent is there, but the end result is pedestrian at best, but not anywhere near the knee-slapping badness of other films. To put it succinctly, it’s too good to be bad, but too bad to be great.
Bugs - One annoying dragonfly here, but it shows up twice. Once as a normal sized bug and then again in its big prehistoric form after it sips some coelacanth blood.
Monsters - We have one primitive ape-like anthropoid here, running around and being quite unsociable, which means giving people heart failure, chasing women and attacking other men.
Nature Run Amok - Two animals transform into savage prehistoric versions of themselves: the dragonfly that becomes Hawk-sized and Samson the German Shepherd.
Science - Science plays a big part here, as Blake breaks out his chemistry set to determine the source of all the funky animals, not to mention the hairy Ape-man that’s on the loose.
Violence - Most occurs offscreen until the end of the movie when things get brutal: a poor shmuck getting an axe right in the face.
01 Min – Oh look, The Universal backlot.
08 Mins - Bitten by a dead fish. Moron.
14 Mins - Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…the Dog Whisperer.
21 Mins - It’s like a prehistoric episode of CSI.
35 Mins - Somebody call PETA!
47 Mins - Ask Dr. Stupid.
56 Mins - Where are Ma and Pa Kettle?
61 Mins - Cameraman’s shadow spotted on table.
75 Mins - Cops fail to notice that monster is wearing Blake’s clothes.
75 Mins - Time for the Wolfman ending.
Shadow's Drinking Game: Every time someone says the word “Coelacanth” take a drink.
for larger image
Blake blabbering on about the prime suspect.
Blake: “Those tracks weren’t made by a man. They’re the tracks of a creature who should’ve become extinct about half a million years ago. A beast far more intelligent than an ape, and yet not quite human.
Shadow’s comment: Republicans?
Blake shows Madeline’s father the truth.
“I’m injecting myself with coelacanth plasma.”
comment: I’ve already seen it. It’s called
the Bush Administration.
Film & Me
the dim recesses of that black hole I call a memory, I can recall watching
this film as a wee lad. How wee? Well, as I often mention, I watched
this one with my sisters, who had all left home before I was six, so
it had to be before 1975. Since the protagonist in this film transforms
from normal human to monster several times, I can remember thinking
that he was a werewolf, as I had seen The Wolfman numerous
times by that point. My sisters had to explain to me that Blake wasn’t
a werewolf, but a different type of monster. Thus, over the years I
came to think of this movie as the not-a-werewolf movie. I
didn’t find it particularly scary or even memorable. In fact,
I had nearly forgotten about this film by the time I was a teen, as
I had not seen it in years. It was by reading about it in books that
I made the connection between the film’s title and the not-a-werewolf
movie memory in my head. I wouldn’t catch the film again until
the early 90’s, when Universal put out a lot of their old stuff
on VHS. I watched it a few times over the years, even seeing it on the
Sci-Fi channel during that network’s early days when it had the
rights to Universal’s catalog of old genre movies. Now that it
is FINALLY out on DVD, I’ve added it to the collection and given
it another couple of plays. Once this review is complete, I’ll
probably have had my fill of the movie until 2010…at the earliest.
Shadow's rating: Five Tombstones