Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Monday, March 17, 2008

THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE


THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE (1957). Director: Leslie Kardos.

Flat, uninspired direction is the main problem of this otherwise intriguing horror film set in a girls’ reformatory. A couple of female administrators can’t help but notice how many of the young women are dying of heart failure, and that the deaths occur the day after screams are heard in the night. William Hudson of Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and Amazing Colossal Man fame plays a psychiatrist who’s called in and winds up spearheading an investigation into the problem. SPOILER ALERT: The people who run the school are all over two hundred years old, and use an electrical process to take life energy from one person (it works best with nubile women – don’t ask) and give it to another. The shame of it is that Victory Jory and some of the other actors give excellent performances, with Paul Cavanaugh a stand-out, especially during a scene when he’s told by the others that he is not going to receive another "treatment" but will be allowed to die. One of the sinister group is a hulking mute who grabs the girls in the night but is beginning to be more trouble than he’s worth. Some interesting notions in this film, but the pace is too slow and everything is presented in a dull matter-of-fact way that doesn’t exactly pull you into the story, which needed a lot of fine-tuning in the first place. Ann Doran (It, The Terror from Beyond Space) plays a bitchy headmistress (and one of the 200 + club) but she really isn’t very good. The title refers to the fact that the skin of the "old folk" starts to turn rock hard just before they need another treatment.
Verdict: Interesting ideas, mediocre execution. **.

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