Thursday, May 15, 2003


A fairly inept Poverty Row thriller that blends elements of horror and science fiction. Lyle Talbot is the skipper of a ship for his uncle Irving Pichel, a scientist who has helped a number of convicted killers escape prison so he can take them out in international waters to perform experiements on them; by messing around with the endocrine glands, he is developing a serum that would stop the criminal urge. One of the killers, Jacqueline Wells (who later in her career took the name Julie Bishop), is actually innocent, and after Talbot discovers what's going on, the two of them bond. The first two subjects of Pichel's experiments don't fare well so he decides he needs to work on a person free of criminal taint, Talbot. Under the influence of the serum, Talbot tries to strangle Wells, then becomes a zombie, then recovers but pretends not to so he can try to get control of the ship after the killers rebel. Poor sets and indifferent acting mar a decent idea that goes nowhere. Oftentimes, atmosphere is all these B-films have going for them, so given that this was directed by Victor Halperin, who did the low budget classic WHITE ZOMBIE, the total lack of atmosphere is quite disappointing. Both of the doctor's assistants, Anthony Averill and Julian Madison, are handsome and sturdy-looking, but spend most of their time standing in the background, until the climax when Averill helps Talbot tackle the killers one by one. Eddie Holden is a ludicrously cliched Swedish sailor who has an amusing scene in which he is being given a shave by one of the killers, Russell Hopton as Harry the Carver. Holden slowly realizes during the shave who is barber really is, and that's about it for any comic relief in the picture. Talbot and Pichel are OK, though Pichel is a little too low-key; they both would have benefited from better writing and direction. For Lyle Talbot fans only.

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