Day 15 – The Phantom Creeps (1939)

The Phantom Creeps posterDay 15: The Phantom Creeps (1939)
Cast:      Bela Lugosi as Dr. Alex Zorka
Robert Kent as Bob West
Dorothy Arnold as Jean Drew
Edward Van Sloan as Jarvis

Story by Willis Cooper
Screenplay by George Plympton, Basil Dickey & Mildred Barish
Directed by Ford Beebe (Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe) & Saul A. Goodkind (Terror by Night)

Plot: Mad scientist Dr. Zorka has created many devices, including an invisibility belt and an eight-foot tall robot. He has also used a meteorite to cause paralysis and now other enemy forces are looking to capture him and steal his devices. When his wife is killed while he is trying to avoid spies and government agents, Zorka decides it’s time to quit playing games and rule the world.

Personal Thoughts: You’d think I would have learned my lesson after The Whispering Shadow. Chapter serials can often be long and a little convoluted but there is a formula that tends to work. Taking a four hour adventure and condensing it down to 80 minutes only works if you have an editor who takes a particular storyline and uses it for one of these condensed film versions. Unfortunately, this editor was clueless and the end result is a mess. There are some interesting scenes but the film devolves into a series of events without any cohesive narrative. I cannot recommend this version. Make the time for the full chapter serial.Phantom 2

Trivia:

  • The first chapter serial to use the rolling forward.
  • The film used extensive stock footage, including from The Invisible Ray (1936). Even Boris Karloff can be seen in the film at one point.
  • The last of Lugosi’s five serials.
  • Rob Zombie uses variations of the robot in his music videos and concerts.
  • Adapted in DC’s Movie Comics #6.
  • The condensed film version was actually released in 1949, a decade after the original chapter serial.

Phantom 1Availability:

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s