What, oh what could be more painful than watching Lon Chaney Jr. attempt to play a role in a movie? Undoubtedly, it’s watching him play two roles in the same movie, as painfully demonstrated in the 1935 oddity; A Scream in the Night.
Ol’ Junior’s not the only problem;
- The film is dingy.
- It features the slowest-moving police inspector on the planet. You could be charitable and say he’s “inexorable” but no, he’s glacier-like. I can relate: t’s my personal default pace, but as entertainment?
- It features a parakeet who gives better line readings than any human actor in the flick. A parakeet.
- It features Mr. Chaney playing a scene with himself – badly on both sides. At least, when he played the Larry Talbot/Wolfman combo (over and over), one of his characters simply slobbered, slaughtered, and neglected personal hygiene.
Peter Sellers did this better; Dr. Strangelove (1964). George Zucco did it better; Dead Men Walk (1943). Hell, Hayley Mills did it better; The Parent Trap (1961).
Curious and dreadful.
I of course loved it.
Atom Age Vampire; the title pretty well tips you off that we’re takin’ the high road tonight. The title is an issue itself. It’s not a vampire flick. It’s more of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde story, and the connection to anything atomic is incoherent and contrived.
It’s Italian and probably lost something in translation.
We have elements of great film-making present here…if your definition of “great” is generous in the extreme.
- It’s black and white, and grainy, and the contrast dial is set at “11”. Ouch.
- We have an “Igor” assistant who of course cannot speak. This always augers well, though I found myself longing for Marty Feldman.
- We have a handsome leading man who smokes, drinks, hangs out at the strip club, spurns his adoring lover because she works at the strip club, and basically contributes nothing positive to the resolving of the case. Naturally, he gets the girl at the end of the film. Hey! It’s Italian.
- We have a script that can’t even spell “plausible”.
- We have cool (sorta) lab equipment like vials that glow and bathtub-like domed chambers that glow. Both seem to do things to people of which the FDA would never approve.
- We have a cool convertible for the protagonist and his victim to drive around in for no discernible reason. Hey! It’s Italian.
AND what an assemblage of talent!
- A beloved director; Anton Giulio Majano. What? You’ve never heard of him? Obviously you haven’t watched enough television…Italian television, that is.
- Alberto Lupo plays the mad scientist/doctor/monster with a George Zucco-ish panache. What? You’ve never heard of him? Obviously you’ve not seen his nuanced work in Minotaur, Wild Beast of Crete and The Giant of Marathon.
- Susanne Loret (you loved her in Uncle Was a Vampire) wears flimsy well. Unfortunately, her acting does too.
- Glamora Mora (I kid you not) plays the belly dancer……….and upon that we will discreetly pull the shade…
It’s mis-named, it’s mis-cast, it’s a mistake. I loved it.