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

Monday, August 25, 2008

THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES


THE PURPLE MONSTER STRIKES (1945). Directed by Spencer Bennet and Fred Brannon.

A man from Mars who is inexplicably known as the Purple Monster (Roy Barcroft) lands on Earth and literally takes over the body of Dr. Cyrus Layton (James Craven). He does this by dematerializing into a phantom form and simply sitting down in Leyton's body. He hopes to steal Layton's scientific devices -- especially a jet ship launching rocket -- for use in a planned Martian conquest of Earth, and by becoming Layton leads good guy Craig Foster (Dennis Moore) and Layton's niece Sheila (Linda Stirling), on a merry chase.

The Purple Monster Strikes is snappy and fast-paced. There are some exciting cliffhangers involving a ladder dangling high over the ground, a pit that fills with water, a car in an auto shop that smashes rapidly downwards towards Moore, and spiked cell bars that threaten to impale Moore as he goes to use the phone (he uses his ingenuity to escape this trap). There's a zesty "cat-fight" between Sheila and Martian Bitch Marcia (Mary Moore) in chapter 12, and the fisticuffs are even more furious than before in chapter thirteen. Tom Steele is one of the thugs, and even Ken Terrell, butler Jess from Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, has a small role, as he usually did in these things.

Verdict: The cast serves up this zany stuff with relish. ***.

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