DEAD MEN WALK and THE MONSTER MAKER make a fun time!
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Roan Archival presents perhaps one of its most entertaining, if not distateful, volumes of "Horror Classics" devoted to preserving the "Poverty Row" pictures of Monogram and PRC. THE MONSTER MAKER is a particularly enjoyable (if not tasteful) hour of sick fun. J. Carrol Naish is superb as Dr. Markoff, a specialist in an elepantitis-like disease. Markoff uses his knowledge to gain control of his foes. In this particular story, he desires the hand of the daughter of brilliant pianist Frank Morgan. When Morgan refuses, he is injected with a virus that turns him into a deformed mess. When Naish discovers a cure, he uses it as a bargaining tool in a very sick and twisted way. This particular films is full of "mad scientist" cliches, yet I couldn't help but be utterly enthralled, especially by the higher-grade casting. As for the techincal side of this film, the print is a better than average one in quality. For the most part, THE MONSTER MAKER looks and sounds beautiful. But like most Poverty Row flicks, it is met with scrathes, speckled and at least one minor film jump. These are not distracting, however. The other side of the disc contains the campy DEAD MEN WALK with menacing George Zucco and the brilliant Dwight Frye (1931 DRACULA). What we have here is basically DRACULA told for the umpteenth time. The similarities in plot and in characters are oh so obvious. What saves this film are superb performances by Zucco as twins (one, if you haven't guessed, is cursed with VAMPIRISM!)and by Dwight Frye in one of his final roles. As for the technical side of this film, you get about the same quality as MONSTER MAKER print wise. DEAD MEN WALK seems to be more frequented by scracthes, splotches and speckles and a couple of film jumps, but overall its not distracting. Both films have attractive menus that are easy to navigate. This is definitely a GREAT value and highly recommended to those interested in this genre"
Terrific Double Dose Of Creepy Horror From Poverty Row's "Pr
Simon Davis | 04/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a joy it is to finally come across these two formally hard to find releases from the infamous "Producer's Releasing Corporation", or "PRC", as it was commonly known during it's heyday in the 1940's. Famed for being the lowest of low of poverty row studios in Hollywood, PRC was considered even a step down from the equally infamous Monogram Studios, and was regarded as basically the end of the line for any actors forced to work for them. I am a big fan of their horror efforts however and in actual fact they produced some interesting low budget horror efforts starring such horror veterans as Bela Lugosi and George Zucco, in among their speciality which was "B" westerns. Here we have two very creepy efforts in "Dead Men Walk", and "The Monster Maker", that make for a most entertaining chilling double and were originally designed to take war time audiences minds off the horrors occuring all over the world. Both films have good casts for such "B", efforts and star the likes of horror stalwarts George Zucco (a PRC regular in among his "A" efforts at the major studios like MGM), who in "Dead Men Walk", plays very different twin brothers, and Dwight Frye, forever known from his role in the original version of "Dracula". While certainly produced on low budgets and shot in record time by veteran "fast", director Sam Newfield, both efforts are well worth checking out with the makeup in "The Monster Maker", being of an especially high quality for such an effort as this.
"Dead Men Walk", (1943),is a vampire story, a subject not usually tackled by PRC however don't expect a typical vampire character as horror lovers have all grown used to in the Hammer Studio efforts. Shot in an amazing six days here George Zucco plays very opposite twins; Dr Lloyd Clayton a kindly small town doctor, and his unbalanced brother Dr. Elwyn Clayont who lost his mind while delving into occult research during a stay in India. The story opens at Elwyn's funeral where it is revealed that Lloyd was forced to kill his insane brother in self defence. All does not run smoothly after the funeral however when Lloyd is clearing out Elwyn's possessions when he is cursed by Elwyn's unbalanced hunchbacked assistant Zolarr (Dwigth Frye), who states that his master will take revenge on Lloyd and his niece Gayle (Mary Carlisle) from beyond the grave. Very soon a strange murder takes place in the area where a woman is completely drained of blood and Lloyd soon gets the fright of his life when his supposedly dead brother appears to him very much alive and threatening him. Zolarr in fact has stolen Elwyn's body from the crypt and he has been revived as a vampire who is now determined to reek vengenance on Lloyd and his family no matter what it takes. Very soon Gayle begins to fall ill from what looks like anemia and it is revealed that Elwyn is preying on her, slowly draining her of blood. Despite Lloyd's best efforts to stop Elwyn's attacks he has a hard time stopping his deranged brother or gettign anyone to believe him uncluding Gayle's fiancee David (Nedrick Young), who begins to suspect Lloyd of the murders. When local busybody Kate (Fern Emmet),learns too much of Elwyn's activities and is also found murdered the local townspeople take the law into their own hands believing that Lloyd is responsible for all the deaths and must be stopped. Lloyd however convinces David of his innocence and of his brother's sinister plan and with his help Lloyd finally tracks down the location of Elwyn's body at Zolarr's house where both men fight it out in a fiery conclusion.
"The Monster Maker", (1944), is a surprisingly nasty little effort and outlines the story of a decidely unbalanced scientist (J. Carrol Naish), who steals another scientist's research into the baffling disease of acromegaly, murders him, and then assumes his identity as Dr. Igor Markoff. One night at a piano recital he sees beautiful Patricia Lawrence (Wand Mckay), in the audience who is the daughter of renowned pianist Anthony Lawrence (Ralph Morgan). Struck by her resemblance to his late wife Dr. Markoff begins to pursue her despite th efact that she is engaged to Bob Blake (Terry frost). When Anthony visits Dr. Markoff to warn him to stay away from his daughter a fight breaks out and Anthony is knocked unconsious. While he is out the deranged Markoff injects him with the acromegaly virus and very soon Anthony is displaying all the symptons of the disease such as rapidly swelling limbs. Consulting his doctor he is referred to the supposed "expert", in the field Dr.Markoff who not only straps Anthony to a table not allowing him to leave but uses blackmail to force Anthony to give him his daughter in return for saving his life from the disease now turning him into a grotesque monster. With the help of Markoff's spurned assistant Maxine (Tala Birell), who against her better judgement actually loved Markoff, Patricia and Bob come to Anthony's rescue who then breaks loose and in the fight with Markoff kills the mad scientist. Maxine is aware of Markoff's cure for acromegaly and then assists in injecting Patricia's father with the vaccine that is the cure which gradually restores him to his former self.
Certainly the storylines for these two PRC efforts could be called loopy and inconsistent however they both make for very enjoyable viewing. Aside from the extremely nasty element present as the basic premise of 'The Monster Maker", that film's production values are surprisingly good with the makeup for Ralph Morgan's transformation courtesy of Maurice Seide, who's wizardry was responsible for transforming Orson Welles into an old man in "Citizen Kane", and for the outstanding makeup transformations achieved in such efforts as "I Walked with a Zombie", and "First Yank into Tokyo". As with all "B" or "C" efforts such as these there are numerous continuity errors in the stories, and unexplained loose ends to the story but they are actually fun to look for such as when George Zucco's eye glasses in "Dead Men Walk", disappear and then reappear again in the one scene or where in the film's fiery climatic scene suddenly a whole group of villagers appear near the open window looking in at George Zucco fighting with his brother that weren't there in the last angle shot.
Hollywood's "Poverty Row", studios are most certainly a thing of the past but their product with time has developed a real cult following among "B" movie enthusiasts. This particular double is one I'm very fond of and is well worth exploring. It constantly amazes me that such enjoyable results, whatever their debatable artistic merits, were often achieved with mere six or seven day shooting schedules. It says alot for talented actors such as George Zucco that no matter how absurd the material he had to work with he always manged to pull off good performances even under such rushed conditions as he does here which still manage to intrigue viewers to this day. Enjoy!
C. Cox | Bronaugh, MO United States | 01/06/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well worth the money.These two lesser known horror features from the forties are just the thing to satisfy those looking for vintage chills.
Fun movies, well presented.
Lets see more like this on DVD."
Alpha is not
bonnie dean | 08/30/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)
"i will never buy an alpha product again. this is very poor quailty as are all the alphas i have bought. this is a good movie, but the picture is so poor it is not worth it.."