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Saturday, May 14, 2016

New Look For the Project




I'm working on switching the Horror Incorporated Project from our old home on Blogger to a new Wordpress platform.  Moving data from one platform to another isn't hard, but it takes a lot of monkeying around after the fact. 

Once I get everything in place, I'll redirect traffic over to the new digs.

In the meantime, I wanted to give my faithful readers a chance to weigh in on the changes. You can see the new look here.

Happy to hear what you think.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Gog on Blu-Ray

Ivan Tors' Gog has popped up a couple of times on Horror Incorporated and I noted at the time that it's not available in the scope / 3D format in which it was originally released. But that's changed! A delicious restoration was released on Blu-Ray by Kino Lorber last month - and it looks beautiful.




It's available from Amazon. Maybe I'll write a review of the Blu-Ray release next time it comes up on the schedule.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Saturday, October 7, 1972: Dr. Renault's Secret (1942) / The Devil Bat (1940)




Synopsis: Dr. Larry Forbes (Shepperd Strudwick) arrives in a remote French village to see his fiance, Madelon Renault (Lynne Roberts) and to meet her uncle, the renowned scientist Dr. Robert Renault (George Zucco). Forbes stops at an inn near the village, where he is supposed to meet someone who will take him to the Renault house. But he learns that they will have to cross over a bridge that has been washed out; and as a result he is stranded in the town overnight. He meets Renault's gardener Rogell (Mike Mazursky) and another of Dr. Renault's servants, a strange taciturn man named Noel (J. Carrol Naish).


Noel says he is from Java, and he seems gentle and sensitive, but also uncomfortable, apologizing repeatedly for his behavior, even when he's done nothing wrong. But he becomes enraged when a drunk inn patron makes a remark that Noel sees as insulting to Madelon. Noel grabs the man and seems ready to attack him. But Larry calms him down and the situation is defused.


When he goes up to retire that night Larry finds the drunk has stumbled into his room by mistake and is snoring away on the bed. Larry, amused, goes to sleep in the drunk's unoccupied room next door. But in the morning the drunk is found murdered, strangled by a very powerful assailant. The police question everyone closely, particularly Rogell, who has a criminal record, as well as Noel, who was seen to argue with the murder victim a few hours before the crime.





The police are unsure of whether the intended victim was the drunk or Larry himself, who was after all sleeping in the wrong room. Nevertheless, Larry, Rogell and Noel head out to the Renault estate. Noel drives, and as the car reaches a bend in the road, he abruptly slows the car down to a crawl. To Larry's astonishment, as they proceed around the curve they see a dog crossing the road. Had Noel not slowed down he would have hit it. But how did he know it was there?


Larry seems to find a kindred spirit in Dr. Renault, who has a keen and curious mind. But something bothers Larry about Noel, and he can't put his finger on what it is. Noel seems gentle and kind, extremely loyal to Madelon, but can fly into a murderous rage if provoked. Animals don't seem to like him, and he doesn't seem to like them. He has enormous strength -- more than any one man ought to have. He has senses much keener than any human. And it comforts him greatly when the barber in town gives him a good close shave....






Comments: By my count this is Horror Incorporated's third broadcast of Dr. Renault's Sccret, a Fox release starring J. Carrol Naish and George Zucco, two faces familiar to us from Universal's golden age of horror. Naish in particular helps to redeem the dubious premise with a remarkably sensitive performance; if he felt at all embarrassed playing a manscaped gorilla trying to pass for a man, it isn't obvious here.*

John Landis, commenting at Trailers From Hell, calls it "a very well-made, stupid programmer" but he clearly has a lot of affection for it (he seems to be a big fan of George Zucco too, and really, who isn't?) 

  

Dave Sindelar is more forgiving of the picture than I am, calling it "a little gem", and I concede that the less you expect from it, the better it plays. Naish and Zucco are both outstanding here (Zucco would have made a delightful Hitchcock villain) and in purely technical terms it has a polish and snap to it that is distinctly lacking in even the best poverty row entries, including our second feature, The Devil Bat.
  
While it isn't obvious at first glance, the story of Dr. Renault's Secret resembles that of Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein imbues a living creature with sentience but won't take responsibility for his actions, leaving his creation to suffer the cruelties inflicted by Fritz. In Dr. Renault's Secret, Renault himself taunts and belittles the simple and childlike Noel, leaving us to wonder why he would create a human life if he places so little value in it. And like many scientists in the post-Frankenstein era, Dr. Renault conducts research for no reason but to inflate his own ego by meddling in God's domain. Both movies feature physical and quite sympathetic performances by the actors portraying the monsters. And, of course, neither Frankenstein nor Renault publish their results in any peer-reviewed journals.
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*George Zucco was in so many Shock! package movies we never have to wait long for him to appear, but we haven't seen a lot of J. Carrol Naish lately.  Dr. Renault's Secret popped up a couple times earlier in 1972, but before that his most recent appearance on Horror Incorporated (not counting his small role in The Beast With 5 Fingers, which we saw in May)  was in House of Frankenstein on June 5, 1971. The last time we saw Calling Dr. Death, which featured Naish as a dogged police detective, was way back on February 14, 1970. Speaking of Calling Dr. Death and the other Inner Sanctum mysteries, they turned up pretty frequently in Horror Incorporated's first year, but they seem to have disappeared -  the last one broadcast was The Frozen Ghost on Saturday, September 12, 1970, more than two years ago.


The Devil Bat





Synopsis: Dr. Paul Carruthers (Bela Lugosi) is a brilliant chemist who works for a cosmetics company. Years ago the company had given him a choice: he could be compensated with a share in the profits, or with a straight salary.  He chose the latter.  Unfortunately for him, the company went on to become a huge player in the cosmetics industry, and it's clear that the percentage deal would have made him extremely wealthy. As it is, he's well-compensated, but he missed out on a fortune that he himself helped to build. The Heath family, which owns the company, is aware of how much they owe Dr. Carruthers.  As far as they know, he's as happy as a clam in his laboratory.

The Heath family decides to throw a party in Dr. Carruthers' honor - and they also secretly plan to award him a bonus check of $5,000.  But the good doctor is late to his own party.  He's busy working.  You see, behind a secret passage in his laboratory is another lab -- and in this one he is breeding giant carnivorous bats!  And that's not all -- he has created a scent that drives the bats wild with rage. 




After Carruthers fails to show up at his own party, young Roy Heath (John Ellis) decides to drop by and give Dr. Carruthers the check in person. When he finds Carruthers the scientist seems delighted by the check, and he gives Roy something in return - a bottle of experimental shaving lotion.  "Be sure to put some on the tender part of the neck," Carruthers advises, and Roy, gamely, does so.  But he doesn't walk more than fifty or so yard out in the open before a giant bat swoops out of the sky, killing him.

At the offices of the Chicago Daily Register, smart-alec reporter Johnny Layton (Dave O'Brien)  is sent out to cover the story. Chief Wilkins of the Heathville police tells Layton that Roy was attacked by some kind of animal; moreover, there were hairs found on the victim that seemed to be those of a mouse.  Layton wonders if the hairs might be from a bat -- as bats and mice are quite similar -- and asks if he can "do some sleuthing around" on the case, and the police chief says it's fine by him.

At the Heath estate, Johnny interviews Mary Heath (Suzanne Kaaren), and it's clear that a mutual attraction is brewing. Dr. Carruthers agrees that Roy was attacked by an animal, and that night Layton and his sidekick / photographer "One-Shot" McGuire (Donald Kerr)  wait out at the edge of the Heath grounds hoping the creature will show up.  Mary comes out to keep Layton company, and before long they are joined by Heath sibling Tommy (Alan Baldwin), who's just been to visit Dr. Carruthers and who has also received a bottle of the special shaving lotion. After Tommy scoffs at the idea of an animal killing Roy, he strides off toward the mansion.  But soon the others hear him calling for help -- and arrive just in time to see Tommy attacked by a giant bat!

Now it's a big story --  the Daily Register is running banner headlines about the "Devil Bat" -- but Layton's editor isn't satisfied.  They need a picture of the bat, and Layton gets an idea: One-Shot can get the local taxidermist to create a fake Devil Bat, take a picture of it, and fool the editor.  Unfortunately, a "Made In Japan"  tag gives away the ruse, and both Layton and One-Shot are fired.  Now they have two tasks: find out the truth about the Devil Bat, and find a way to get their old jobs back....






Comments: As I've noted a number of times on this site, Universal responded to Bela Lugosi's success as the star of Dracula with an ambivalent strategy: they relegated him to minor roles, while at the same time playing up his name in the marketing materials. Slowly but surely they edged Lugosi right off the lot.

But in the poverty-row houses Lugosi was never anything less than a genuine star, and he won the lion's share of screen time even when the scripts were poor and budgets were meager -- which was approximately always. Probably the best of these Lugosi programmers was PRC's  The Devil Bat, a film that attacks --with great relish -- a premise that one might describe as, erm, "batshit crazy".




Indeed, the craziest thing about Dr. Carruther's revenge plot isn't that he breeds huge carnivorous bats and unleashes them to kill his enemies. It's that his plot actually works.  No sooner do his intended victims step out the front door than a bat swoops in and rips out their jugular veins. If Carruthers was interested in getting rich, he should have just patented his process and sold it to the military -- imagine entire Panzer divisions scattering in terror as clouds of huge, bloodthirsty bats descend from the skies!

Now that we're thinking about it, why would Dr. Carruthers use a bat at all? Most bats eat insects or fruit (vampire bats drink blood, of course, but they're pretty dainty about it; they nibble through skin with their teeth and lap up whatever small amount of blood comes out. Getting killed by one of them would take quite a while).

Hence stage one in Dr. Carruther's plan: using electricity (or something) to make his bats super-sized. Stage two: conditioning the bat to react with rage at a specific smell (e.g., Old Spice aftershave). Then, stage three: get his unlucky victim to slap on some lotion while inside his house, usher them out the door, run down to the basement, pull the lever releasing the killer bat, and hope for the best.

Sorry, but this seems like an awful lot of work.  I get that using a .38 would rob you of the poetic justice of killing the Heaths with their own products, but really. If you're so determined to outsource your murders to an animal, why not condition a mountain lion or a bear to go after your quarry? At least they've been known to kill people.*

I guess this is why they call them "mad scientists" and not simply "unreasonably angry but nonetheless practical scientists".  The Devil Mountain Lion wouldn't have looked right on a movie marquee either. Still, I can't imagine pitching this story to any film studio. Even Universal -- which released plenty of dogs from its cinematic kennel over the years -- wouldn't have touched this one with a ten-foot pole. But all things were possible  at PRC, and even stupid ideas could get greenlighted, provided they were lurid and exciting enough. And this one was both.






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*If it were me, I'd breed skunks to react with rage at the smell of the lotion; it wouldn't kill the Heaths, but it would sure be entertaining.
 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Saturday, September 23, 1972: The Ape (1940) / Monster A Go Go (1965)


Synopsis: Dr. Bernard Adrian (Boris Karloff) is widely disliked by his small town neighbors. The locals have few rational reasons for their hostility. Dr. Adrian keeps to himself, but when dealing with his neighbors he is civil enough. Nevertheless there is a general feeling that doesn't belong, and the distinctly vague complaint that he "experiments too much".

The one person in town who adores Dr. Adrian is Frances Clifford (Maris Wrixon), a young woman stricken with polio. Dr. Adrian dotes on her like his own daughter, and this causes resentment from Frances' jealous jerk of a boyfriend Danny (Gene O'Donnell).

Dr. Adrian has been experimenting with the spinal fluid of animals, and he believes he is getting closer to perfecting a serum that will cure those who've been stricken with polio. At about the same time, a circus comes to town, and Dr. Adrian encourages Danny to take Frances to see it. Late the same night, an ape badly injures its trainer and escapes from the circus. The trainer is brought to Dr. Adrian's surgery, but it is clear that the man has little chance of survival.



Soon Dr. Adrian has created a human serum and he begins to treat Frances with it. The serum causes great pain to her legs, which alarms Danny, but Dr. Adrian sees this as an encouraging sign, since the paralysis had left her without any feeling in her legs whatsoever. Meanwhile, the ape, which is still on the loose, kills another man, and Dr. Adrian must sign the death certificate.

Frances' reaction to the spinal fluid treatment is encouraging. While the pain in her legs is growing worse, she is able to move her foot a little -- a clear sign that Dr. Adrian's treatment is working.

Late one night the ape breaks into Dr. Adrian's lab. Dr. Adrian is able to kill it but not before it smashes his vials of serum. He decides to keep the ape's death a secret.

Soon the county coroner comes to visit Adrian. It seems the two victims of the ape were both found to have puncture wounds in the spine -- as though Dr. Adrian had injected something into the men -- or extracted something.

Before long, Dr. Adrian is wearing the ape's skin and prowling the neighborhood, knowing that the gorilla will be blamed for the murders he needs to commit in order to help Frances....



Comments: Dave Sindelar (of Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings fame) says that the ending to this movie nearly brought him to tears when he was a kid.  And that might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said about it.  

The Ape is certainly a better movie than Monster a Go Go, tonight's second feature. But nearly every film can safely make that claim. No matter how much goodwill I bring to watching The Ape I find myself periodically checking my watch. And the movie is only 57 minutes long.

 Curt Siodmak wrote the screenplay, but there's nothing to tip you off that he worked on it aside from a preoccupation with spinal fluid. Say what you like about Siodmak, he was a solid craftsman, but for whatever reason - most likely a poverty-row insistence that good money ought not to be wasted on frills like second drafts -- the script isn't even competent.

There are plenty of plot holes and general nonsense to be found here, but I think the biggest problem is the character of Dr. Adrian himself. Not only does he violate the laws of God and man in his quest to procure spinal fluid for young Frances' serum (we expect that; it's a given for the mad scientist subgenre) but he abandons all common sense along the way. Dressing up like a gorilla doesn't do him any good unless somebody sees him (the gorilla costume doesn't give him the strength of an ape, it just makes him look like one); and if somebody sees him they're likely as not going to shoot him (Dr. Adrian's final tally while wearing the ape suit: shot three times, stabbed once). Had he skulked around as Dr. Adrian, he could have dreamed up some excuse for doing so if caught   -- looking for the gorilla, for example. That's what the rest of the yokels are doing out in the woods in the middle of the night.

Even setting this aside, what was Dr. Adrian going to do, once he has strangled someone out in the woods in the guise of the gorilla? Why, insert a needle into the base of the skull and withdraw spinal fluid, of course. That an autopsy would quickly discover this never seems to occur to Dr. Adrian, even though autopsies revealed exactly that in both of the previous two victims. How would he explain that? "Oh, I was walking out in the woods and this fellow was lying there, dead. So...."

As long as Dr. Adrian is acting irrationally, why not murder Frances' jerk boyfriend Danny, whom he at least has a reason to kill? For all Dr. Adrian's avuncular kindness to the young girl, I'm not entirely convinced his motives are as pure as he lets on. So murdering Danny would be a more interesting plot development than strangling some unsuspecting townie.

Aside from one William Henry Pratt, a.k.a. Boris Karloff (who could probably play these sorts of roles in his sleep by this time), this film features the lovely Maris Wrixon as Frances. Wrixon was an up-and-coming actress on the Warner lot who never quite made it as a star, and she spent more time loaned out to Monogram than she ever did at the studio that actually signed her contract. After Warner dropped her, she quickly vanished. But she was a winning presence here, as she was in another Monogram mad scientist picture, the John Carradine vehicle The Face of Marble.



Monster a Go Go

Synopsis: A Mercury space capsule returns to Earth far off course, landing in the Illinois countryside. Dr. Chris Manning (Peter Thompson) and Dr. Steve Connors (Philip Morton) are dispatched by NASA to recover the vehicle.  They find that it was badly damaged upon re-entry and contaminated with massive amounts of radiation.  The astronaut, Frank Douglas (Henry Hite), is nowhere to be found.

Before long, reports of a ten-foot tall creature wearing a silver suit begin to filter in.  The thing is wandering across the countryside, leaving bodies and destruction in its wake.  Manning and Brent quickly realize that this is Douglas, irradiated and apparently mutated into some kind of monster.

Dr. Conrad Logan and his assistant, Dr. Nora Kramer (Losi Brooks), try to work out what has happened to Douglas. They determine that the emits a field of deadly radiation around it that extends out about 10 feet. The field is gradually growing, and if the creature isn't stopped the field will grow to hundreds of feet in diameter. This is especially troubling since the monster is making its way toward Chicago.

Dr. Logan manages to capture the creature and gives it doses of an anti-radiation drug. But it breaks loose and heads toward the city. 

The civil defense forces manage to corner the thing in the sewers of Chicago.  They pursue it, but what can they do, even if they manage to corner it?






Comments: You would think a movie about the hunt for an astronaut-turned-radioactive-monster that's shambling through the woods, killing teenagers while they make out in their cars, would be at least mildly interesting. But Monster a Go Go is about as exciting and suspenseful as a how-to video about drywall installation 

The movie is an almost unwatchable mashup of terrible footage shot by Bill Rebane (the clueless, utterly talentless director of The Giant Spider Invasion)  and unrelated scenes added by the sharp-eyed exploitation director Herschell Gordon Lewis (I previously posted a review, if you're interested). The title Monster a Go Go was apparently Lewis', and it might be the best thing about the movie; along with the opening credits, which show the mutated astronaut's silver boots stomping along, superimposed over a starry background, as rock-n-roll thumps and twangs away in the background. It sets a tone to which the movie seems to aspire, but never achieves: cool and trippy, a waking dream informed by all the square sci-fi movies of the past. Handled right, it could have been a clever and arty and slightly subversive romp

But the counterculture had not yet seeped into science fiction films, and wouldn't until the 1970s, when indie films like Dark Star, Zardoz and A Boy and His Dog began turning up in cinemas -- movies filled with irony and antiheroes and downbeat endings.  In any case, Rebane's material isn't even competent on its own terms; and Lewis, though at least able to discern what a drive-in audience might like, isn't interested in anything more than showing some horny teenagers in danger.

In the end, what Rebane contributed was beyond anyone's ability to redeem. He had apparently never heard the phrase "show, don't tell" in relation to screenwriting, and his scenes are painfully static. Without fail the most interesting incidents occur offscreen, and we only hear about them third-hand as characters stand around and endlessly drone on about them. Never has a movie worked so hard to drive away its audience.





I thought of adding something about the movie's daffy and nonsensical ending, but it hardly seems worthwhile. I suspect very few people who started watching this turkey made it all the way to the end. Let's just assume that no who one saw this one on Horror Incorporated got that far.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Saturday, September 16, 1972: Ambush In Leopard Street (1962) / Ghost Ship (1952)


Synopsis: Small-time criminal Harry (Michael Brennan) has been tipped off to a potential big score, far bigger than anything he's ever been involved in. A half a million pounds' worth of cut diamonds are due to be shipped across London by a boutique jeweler as part of a commission. Harry teams up with old cronies Nimmo (Bruce Seton) and Danny (Lawrence Crain), and outside man Kegs (Norman Rodway). Together they draw up a plan to ambush the van carrying the diamonds at its most vulnerable point  -- while it's on the narrow, secluded Leopard Street.

Harry knows the cargo and he knows the route. The only thing he doesn't know is exactly when the shipment will be moved. In order to find out, Harry recruits his brother-in-law Johnny, a good-looking kid with an insouciant charm and a clean record. Harry plans to arrange a chance meeting between Johnny and Jean (Jean Harvey), a lonely secretary who works for the jeweler.  Johnny's task is to start up a romance, and get her to spill the beans about the date of the shipment.




Harry's wife Cath is angry at him for dragging her kid brother into his seedy business, but Harry insists that the payoff will be enough to set the kid up for whatever in life he wants to do. Anyway, he promises, this is his last job.

Johnny is successful in winning over the romantically gun-shy Jean, but as the two grow closer he begins to have second thoughts. Is he really starting to fall for her? And if so, can he go through with the deception?

Meanwhile, Nimmo gets beat up by thugs working for Big George, a gangster further up the food chain. Big George has decided he's going to take the diamonds from under Harry's nose, and he's not above kidnapping Harry's daughter in order to make sure he gets his way....




Comments: Ambush In Leopard Street isn't the first crime drama to be broadcast on Horror Incorporated, but the ones that we've seen so far (like The Island Monster or The Face Behind the Mask) at least feature a recognizable horror star. Tonight we have a low-budget British heist picture, with no stars at all. 

I'm sorry to report there are no leopards in it either.

Giving the film a fair assessment isn't easy; the only extant version seems to be a 57-minute DVD release from Renown --  16 minutes shorter than the original theatrical cut. I suspect that's why the plot seems as choppy as it does.

But I don't need the extra 16 minutes to tell you that the plot is simple - perhaps too simple - and director J. Henry Piperno fails to provide even the slightest spark of visual interest. The interior sets are dingy and uninteresting with only the most rudimentary lighting; and the frame compositions are pedestrian and unimaginative. 

In Piperno's favor, the focus on small-time London hoods has real potential, and the actors are generally doughy and unattractive -- that is to say, they look like real people, not movie stars. On top of this, the street scenes (actually shot in Ireland) lend credibility to this story about the criminal bottom-feeders in London's rougher quarters. In the hands of a more talented director Ambush In Leopard Street might have been a raw, documentary-like thriller, but the movie tries to follow the template of better-known heist pictures of the 1950s. There's just not enough suspense to make it work. As a result it comes off as plodding and dull.




There are also a number of plot holes that dog the movie from the start. There's no real reason to think Harry's plan should work, since it hinges on a number of factors he can't control: that Jean knows the precise timing of the shipment, that a novice con man like Johnny will be able to wheedle the information out of her, that the van wouldn't take an alternate route or change the schedule at the last moment.

For that matter, sending two guys in a van seems an extremely risky way to carry what would be equivalent today to $9.6 million in diamonds. It seems likely that, even in 1962, the shipment would be outsourced to couriers in an armored car. 

This was a rare starring role for Michael Brennan, an extremely prolific actor who usually played thugs and bartenders. He was in Thunderball and played a club fighter in "The Girl Who Was Death", an episode of TV's The Prisoner.


Ghost Ship 



Synopsis: Guy Thornton (Dermot Walsh) and his wife Margaret (Hazel Court) have recently returned to England after a few years of living in the U.S.A. Guy was in the Canadian navy during the war and the two have the idea of buying a yacht and using it as their home. They see an advertisement for a diesel ship called the Cyclops; upon looking at the ship Guy can see that while it's long been neglected, under all the grime and the peeling paint is a beautiful yacht -- exactly what the couple has been looking for. The dealer seems reluctant to sell, though, telling the couple a strange story that he wants them to consider before purchasing.

The Cyclops had been owned by a married couple, the Martineaus, who one day drew the ship out from her berth -- the very berth she is resting in now, the dealer says -- and set out on a pleasure cruise in the English Channel. With them was the ship's engineer, a very capable man. Some weeks later the Cyclops was discovered, drifting and abandoned. She was found to have absolutely nothing wrong with her. The three people on board had simply vanished.




After an inquest the ship was put up for sale. The new owners became alarmed by many odd things happening on board - a persistent smell of cigar smoke, even though no one on board smoked them; and the ghost of a man that sometimes appeared in the engine room. The owners put the ship up for sale, but the Cyclops' reputation as a haunted vessel has dogged her since.

The Thorntons don't believe in ghosts, but do see the ship's dodgy reputation as a way to get a good price for her. They throw themselves into renovating the Cyclops, and after a great deal of hard work a very handsome yacht emerges. But hiring a crew is nearly impossible: no sailor wants to work on a haunted ship. And before long, Margaret begins to note the overpowering smell of cigar smoke on board, and Guy sees the ghost of a man staring at him down in the engine room....

Comments: Not to be confused with the 1943 Val Lewton film of the same name, Ghost Ship isn't a movie that goes for outright scares, but instead cultivates a growing sense of unease. As horror movies go, it's fairly low-intensity. And given the film's provenance this shouldn't come as a surprise.

British horror in the pre-Hammer days tended to be quite understated, and this film is no exception.  It's a ghost story in the classic sense, one that deftly frames the central mystery of the Cyclops: what happened to the Martineaus and their engineer?  As in many haunted-house stories the couple reaches a crisis point when they realize they were wrong to scoff at the ghost stories (horror films always exact a penalty to scoffers) but find they are trapped. They have sunk all their money into buying and renovating the ship. They can't flee the Cyclops and must find a way to rid her of the ghostly infestation.




 Margaret, who is the more open-minded of the two, confesses to Guy that she has called in an expert from a psychic research organization to assist them. Guy is unhappy about this at first, certain that he's opening their home to a crackpot or a con artist, but finally relents. "What have we got to lose?" he says.


"Ten pounds," Margaret replies. "That's their fee."

Expecting a colorful charlatan, the Thorntons are surprised to meet Dr. Fawcett, an earnest parapsychologist armed with nothing more exotic than a box full of tuning forks, which he uses to demonstrate the way in which sound waves pass through air and other media, such as water. It's the same, Fawcett says, with psychic vibrations.   It's a rather long scene and no film would risk boring the audience with anything like it today, but there's a charm and innocence to it that I found appealing.



The beautiful Hazel Court appeared a number of horror films, most notably Hammer's The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957, Corman's Masque of the Red Death, The Raven and The Premature Burial in the early 1960s. To me, however, her most impressive credit is her appearance as Ellen in the completely unhinged Devil Girl From Mars.

Dermot Walsh, like his fellow castmembers, was a bread-and-butter actor who could easily jump between lead and supporting roles, and seems to have done a fair amount of stage work in his long career.

But the real star of the movie is the Cyclops, the beautiful steam yacht at the center of the story. Unsurprisingly, the yacht was owned by writer and director Vernon Sewell. Looks like the clever Mr. Sewell was able to write off some maintenance work on the ship out of the film's budget. And why not?