Saturday, December 29, 2007

THE UNDYING MONSTER


THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942). Director: John Brahm.

At the turn of the century the Hammond family of England is under a strange curse, and become victims of an unseen, prowling monster that tears them apart at night. Helga Hammond (Heather Angel) believes the tale of the curse is all stuff and nonsense, but then her brother Oliver (John Howard) is attacked and nearly killed by the monster. Inspector Bob Curtis (James Ellison) of Scotland Yard is called in with female associate "Christie" Christopher (Heather Thatcher) to investigate the attack on Oliver and a lady friend who was tramautized by the assault. Then there's the sinister Doctor Colbert (Bramwell Fletcher), a special friend of Helga's, who stands to inherit if Oliver dies. Lucien Ballard's crisp cinematography, handsome production values, and some superlative scenic design and art direction add immeasurably to the film's atmosphere, but the comic relief provided by Ellison and Thatcher detracts from same. Ellison was perfectly okay in light comedies and romances, but he's an odd choice to play a Scotland Yard detective (and doesn't even try to affect a British accent). This is sort of a non-werewolf werewolf story. Minor all told, but not without interest.

Verdict: Not great, but has its moments. **1/2.

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