THE UNDYING MONSTER. 20th Century Fox, 1942. James Ellison, Heather Angel, John Howard, Bramwell Fletcher, Heather Thatcher, Aubrey Mather, Halliwell Hobbes Screenplay by Lillie Hayward and Michael Jacoby, based mostly on the novel by Jessie Douglas Kerruish (Heath Cranton, UK, hardcover, 1922. Macmillan, US, hardcover, 1936). Directed by John Brahm.
It is a B-movie. Don’t get confused as a result of it’s properly carried out, it’s a B by a director, John Brahm, who was about to breakout into a short A profession (The Lodger, Hangover Sq., The Brasher Doubloon) earlier than finally ending up directing tv. What he does right here is to carry an A sensibility and abilities to a B movie for all its B trappings and solid.
The novel, by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, is amongst different issues, top-of-the-line werewolf novels ever written. Admittedly that isn’t a really large space, there’s Dumas’s The Wolf Chief, Stevenson’s up to date Unusual Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Man Endore’s Werewolf of Paris, and in fashionable instances, a handful of books by Poul Anderson, Stephen King, Robert McKinnon, Gary Brander, and Richard Jacoma, however for all their recognition in movie, there are comparatively few literary werewolves value noting.
I assume they’re too bushy and smelly to be as attractive as vampires.
The novel is considerably extra severe and higher than the movie, although the fundamental story is similar. John Hammond is the scion of cursed household haunted by a monster that takes the lifetime of the oldest born. He brings in a good friend to assist and it’s found an historic Viking curse turns the Hammond males into ravening beasts at a sure age. A lot of the novel is uncovering that curse after which discovering a technique to reverse it earlier than it’s too late.
It is a wonderful supernatural novel that comes shut to really making werewolves midway plausible and is filled with invention and concepts. Of its variety it’s a small and distinguished traditional.
The movie retains the central thought, however loses a lot of what makes the novel a traditional of its variety.
But in its personal manner the film, B as it’s, is a minor traditional too, standing comfortably solely simply behind The Wolfman and The Werewolf of London regardless of its cheaper manufacturing values.
John Howard (Paramount’s Bulldog Drummond) is John Hammond, scion of the Hammond household, and “sufferer” of the household curse when his little canine is killed by one thing at midnight on a foggy night time. Not a lot later there’s a human loss of life and Scotland Yard is introduced in.
Inspector Craig (Aubrey Mather) thinks that is the proper case for scientific detective Robert Curtis (James Ellison who had a comparatively temporary profession as a minor main man and cowboy star) and his feminine assistant Christy (Heather Thatcher), who’s a bit on the screwball aspect and one thing of a suffragette (the interval is Pre-WW I), who’s dispatched to Hammond manor to put the beast, or the assassin, whichever it could be.
Largely set-bound, Brahm does a very good job with darkish and light-weight and fog to maintain every little thing swirling round all of the fuzzy edges. There’s a claustrophobic really feel to the movie of one thing terrible within the shadows that’s properly contrasted with Ellison’s vibrant scientific thoughts attempting to shine gentle in all these darkish corners, even when that gentle might reveal one thing science isn’t prepared for
This movie is as shut as you get within the interval to “Sherlock Holmes Meets the Wolfman.”
Issues aren’t straightforward both, Hammond’s stunning sister (Heather Angel) is endangered, butler Halliwell Hobbes is hiding one thing, and Dr. Bramwell Fletcher is downright suspicious — is he simply jealous of Curtis attraction to Heather Angel, or is there one thing extra happening? He’s actually hiding one thing.
He is aware of one thing.
And why is he poisoning John Hammond?
It’s a fast paced film, and builds to a effective end on the cliffs with the thriller of the Hammond curse laid eventually, very practically lastly for Curtis.
In some methods probably the most attention-grabbing character within the movie is Heather Thatcher’s Christy, Watson to Curtis Holmes. She is a contemporary mature girl, not a helpless younger factor, and she or he has some precise abilities although she is partly comedian reduction. For as soon as although you may truly see why Curtis might need her round. She isn’t simply there to level a gun on the dangerous man after Curtis exposes him or look good across the workplace.
That is no masterpiece. Youthful viewers might not have as a lot endurance with it as these of us who grew up on B movies.
I might nonetheless wish to see a extra trustworthy adaptation of the Kerruish novel, however that is rattling good by itself and maintain up pretty properly.
For now you may catch it on Amazon, and it’s truly value a glance.