Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: John Carradine, Myron Healey, Allison Hayes, Marilyn Buferd, Arthur Batanides
Director: Boris Petroff
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy
The spooky laboratory of Dr. Charles Conway (horror legend John Carradine) holds monstrous secrets in this delirious drive-in favorite from the golden age of creature features! Experiments with human glands have produced a... more »
Slim but stunning DVD of entertaining Mad Doctor opus
Surfink | Racine, WI | 08/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"No, The Unearthly is not a Great Movie by any stretch, but it's always been one of my favorite 1950s horror cheapies for a number of reasons. Chief among them, of course, is drop-dead-gorgeous Allison Hayes as heroine Grace Thomas, here playing in sweet, vulnerable mode, in contrast to her archetypal `bad girl' performances as The 50-Foot Woman, Tonda Metz in The Disembodied, and Livia the sorceress in Roger Corman's The Undead. Also on hand are Tor Johnson in his second appearance as pinheaded brute "Lobo" (he even gets a few choice lines), and the always-enjoyable John Carradine, hamming it up as ever playing the deranged Dr. Conway ("I am a scientist. Thinking is my business."). Carradine had played so many mad doctors by this point that he could probably do it in his sleep. The opening shot sets the tone as a screaming woman claws gashes into Tor's face, immediately followed by the cartoonish credit sequence. The plot is pretty generic: Dr. Loren Wright (Roy Gordon) finds potential subjects with no family ties and refers them to Conway ("trust me implicitly"), whose glandular/electrical experiments (to conquer aging and death, naturally) turn them into twitching, catatonic, mutant freaks. Myron Healey (veteran of zillions of B-movies and TV westerns) is the escaped killer/holdup man who literally stumbles into Conway's "house of monsters"; pretty Sally Todd (Frankenstein's Daughter) plays experimental victim Natalie; and icy blonde Marilyn Buferd (who had been directed by Roberto Rossellini and Rene Clair) appears as Dr. Gilchrist, Conway's assistant (she also has a thang for the bad doctor). Instantly recognizable "tough-guy" character actor Arthur Batanides (Maltese Bippy, Leech Woman, plus dozens of TV guest shots including The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mission: Impossible), plays aggressive neurotic Danny, another "patient" of Conway's. Highlights include Hayes and Playboy model Todd sunbathing, Dr. Conway performing Bach's "scary" Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on the organ, and the glandular transplant operation, a rather amusing affair involving crackling bolts of electricity, lotsa big knobs and dials, and some deadpan `scientific' gibberish between Drs. Conway and Gilchrist (the artificial "17th gland" looks like a used condom or a wet dog dropping, you choose). Incredibly enough, this was co-written by John D. F. Black (as "Geoffrey Dennis"), associate producer and writer on the original Star Trek series! Exploitation cheapie producer/director Boris L. Petroff/Brooke L. Peters (Untamed Women, Anatomy of a Psycho) proves that having a European surname doesn't equate with being a talented director: bad-movie fans will have fun counting continuity errors, perhaps the most conspicuous of which is an entire dialogue scene between Carradine and Healey about 20 minutes in that violates the most basic rules of visual syntax. With every cut the two actors jump to opposite sides of the frame! Be sure to stick around to see the basement full of zero-budget makeup artist Harry Thomas's freaky `manimal' mutants (one of which is Tor's son Karl) in the finale. Lucky guy Healy gets to smooch it up with Hayes at the fade. Not quite the dizzying hodgepodge of an Ed Wood flick, but definitely in the neighborhood. Highly recommended for members of the Hayes, Tor, and Carradine cults, and fans of 1950s monster dreck in general.
For this DVD transfer, Image apparently got ahold of the original 35mm negative and it shows. Aside from some sporadic very light speckling, the print is virtually pristine. Black level, brightness, contrast, sharpness, and shadow/highlight detail are uniformly excellent throughout. You'll never need an upgrade from this one! The image is framed at 1.66:1 and anamorphically enhanced, and the Dolby Digital mono sound is clear and full. Unfortunately, extras are skimpy (especially for the price), consisting of 16 chapter stops, a very minimal photo gallery of only 3 B&W stills and one lobby card, and brief liner notes by David Del Valle. Not even a trailer! Another (minor) nitpick of mine is that the reproduction of the original one-sheet on the DVD cover is surprisingly poor (I just happen to own this particular poster). But considering the fantastic print quality of the feature, fans of the movie will want this disc anyway (it blows both Rhino's out-of-print VHS pre-record and my taped-off-AMC copy clear off the map). Just a few more extras would've made this a five-star DVD."
A blast from the past...
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 08/24/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this as a kid and never forgot it. So when I found it available on DVD I fell all over myself getting it. And I wasn't disappointed at all. I love it and I recommend it to lovers of low-budget b&w 50's horror. Mad doctor John Carradine runs a secluded "private sanitarium" where patients check in but they don't check out. He's conducting glandular experiments with his patients turning into deformed mutants that end up in the basement. Voluptuous Allison Hayes is his newest patient and potential victim. Tor Johnson is around as Lobo the hulking assistant with an eye for "purty gurls". What a cast! And a beautiful print from Image as well. Great for rainy day or late night viewing. I'm a sucker for the good stuff and this movie is a good example of what I wish was available on DVD. Sure, it's poverty row cheesy but endearingly so. Grab a friend or two, pop some popcorn and just enjoy this movie for what it is...a delirious guilty pleasure."
1950s B&W Nostalgia
Charles J. Garard Jr. PhD | Liaocheng University, China | 02/09/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"How can you review a film full of flaws like this low-budget thriller of the 1950s? I mean, how can you compare it with the horror films made in the 2000s with CGI effects and big-name stars?
We can start by looking at what these programmers of the 1950s had to offer. In the case of this film, we have John Carradine, a versatile actor who played in everything from DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (which starred Henry Fonda), GRAPES OF WRATH (Henry Fonda again), and BRIGHAM YOUNG FRONTIERSMAN (which starred Tyrone Power). He even appeared in the sleezy but big-budget production MYRA BRECKINRIDGE and Woody Allen's scream of a masterpiece EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX.... Here he portrays a somewhat angry, self-acclaimed genius who wants to prolong life (perhaps indefinitely) but continues to make too many mistakes. His mistakes, unfortunately, not only become horribly disfigured after his treatment but eventually end up like Marion Crane after Norman Bates gets through with her in PSYCHO.
I will leave it to you to decide whether or not John Carradine was a good actor. He is definitely a distinguished presence on the screen with his gaunt physique and deep booming voice. Some might even point out his versatility on the big screen.
I wish to look at two of the minor stars in this minor production: Allison Hayes and Myron Healy - two B stars who, like Carradine, continued to work in Hollywood for many years.
You might want to refer to Ms. Hayes as a B-movie queen because she is an incredibly beautiful addition to many low-budget programmers, not only in horror movies like this one but even in westerns. Why she remained as a B-movie star is beyond my knowledge, but if you want to look for her, she can be found in such small but unforgotten films as ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, GUNSLINGER, and my favorite under-valued Roger Corman film THE UNDEAD -- an unusual time travel film that I showed in a college class when I taught time-travel science-fiction. This is one Corman film that I would like to see brought back for fans and re-evaluated today in light of its original touches.
As far as THE UNEARTHLY is concerned, Ms. Hayes, at least, gets to survive the fade-out. In the clever time travel film THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT, a more recent B-movie queen, Nancy Allen, plays a character with the name of Allison Hayes, perhaps as an homage for film buffs.
Also surviving the fade-out is the often-seen movie villain Myron Healy. He is often shot by the hero in such 1950s westerns as TENNESSEE'S PARTNER, one of the better films in that genre. In RIO BRAVO he is faced with the indignant task of fishing a silver dollar out of a saloon spittoon when John Wayne helps Dean Martin get revenge against those who ridiculed him.
In THE UNEARTHLY, Healy doesn't get to kill the villain Carradine (an undead victim gets that honor) but he does get to portray a policeman and is seen in the fade-out passionately kissing the gorgeous B queen Allison Hayes. Lucky man. Who says that B-movie actors don't finally get their rewards?
Despite its flaws -- bad acting on the part of the woman playing Carradine's blonde assistant and a bloodless shirt of a secondary character who is shot at close range by Tor Johnson -- THE UNEARTHLY is a film worth seeing for those who like the old programmers. I know you are out there because I have read your reviews of other 1950s low-budget offerings such as HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, BLOOD OF DRACULA, and RETURN OF DRACULA, fortunately still available through Amazon. Of course, the MYSTERY- SCIENCE 3000 crew found this film full of things to make fun of, and I can't truly fault their cheap shots and clever quips. What remains, however, is the question of whether or not an advanced form of surgical technique to replace glands in order to prolong life might be possible in the future. What we might discover someday is that fanciful writers and producers hampered by a low budget inadvertently predicted what has become a reality.
Those of us who have enjoyed the 19th-century stories of writers such as Jules Verne now know that this is entirely possible.
Charles J. Garard, now in Changchun, China"