“Mingling the blood of man and beast is downright sacrilege!”
This is the first of my many missteps. Mostly, because the direction is unclear. Do I do a straight review, when the quality is a given? Do I put the movie in some kind of historical perspective? Or do I just ramble on like John Agar? The answer is probably and much, much more.
Since I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew, I’m not worrying about the shorts or sticking to any kind of order. Sorry Commander Cody fans. I weep with you.
The Mad Monster is from the Season 1 on The Comedy Channel. Seasons 0 and 1, the Dr. Erhardt years, are the ones I’m the least familiar with. But this episode (along with The Crawling Eye and The Corpse Vanishes) were streaming on Netflix for a while, so I know this one better than most of that era. I would say the Cody short is probably my favorite part of this experiment.
For whatever reason, there was a ‘man-to-beast’ trend in movies in the early 1940s. 1942’s The Mad Monster was part of that trend. And actually, not all that bad of a movie.
Most of the Werewolf movies I’ve seen, the change is a supernatural occurrence, a curse, that sort of thing. In this movie, this Werewolf is the workings of science (Ok, really bad stupid science, but science nevertheless). A nice little thing to try and keep a poplar genre fresh.
There are a couple oblique references to a war against fanatics, so the whole ‘super werewolf soldier’ isn’t, contextually, the maddest mad scientist scheme ever (A Captain American Werewolf in Berlin mayhaps?), and it is good enough an idea for Bella to steal in Bride of the Monster. And The Blood Waters of Dr. Z stole the being berated by invisible colleges, so you got that too.
Ok George Zucco goes Shatner as Dr. Cameron. But he is somewhere between Bella and Price, so some overacting is too be expected. He is one of those genre pioneers. How much do you think he’d have charged for a signed pic? A great horror villain of the time.
Glenn (Petro) Strange might be the best of the cast. While Zucco is ACTING, Strange is really conveying that internal struggle and change going through his body and mind. I can really see how tormented Petro is about the killings he knows he committed while ‘asleep’.
Was there really that much science coverage in the newspapers in the 30s and 40s? Were there really Professors going to the Times to assail their associates? Had science just been invented or something?
The bland daughter/love interest has a good scream when she sees wolf-Petro.
When the lightning hits Dr. Cameron’s chemicals starting the climactic fire, how can one not think that he tampered in God’s domain?
So I suppose some kind of ratings are in order. The main things I am ‘interested’ in are:
Is it a watchable movie without the riffs?
Now watchable is a very subjective term. So many parts go into it: Did they have a good idea, but no talent? Was there talent trying to overcome bad decisions? Did they mistake silence for seriousness? Did they try or did they they not care? Did they know what a movie was before they tried to make one? All of this and more gets thrown into the mix. I also speak from the viewpoint of a B-Movie fan; I’ve willingly sat through bad most movie goers can’t imagine.
I would say by any standard, this is watchable movie. There is a plot, they mostly keep to their rules, and unlike so many MST3K films they don’t get distracted. On a scale of one to five (one being never again and five being press play right now), I’d give The Mad Monster a very solid 3. Not a regular choice, but I can see at couple more spins in its future.
How much do I miss the riffs?
This is a real easy one for me. The Riffed version isn’t a particularly memorable one for me, a rare episode overtaken by the short. I can’t really think of a favorite riff in that episode that isn’t from the Commander Cody short. On the same one to five scale (one being pure Hell with no riffs and five being not at all), this is a 5.
Watchabilty: 3 of 5 (one being never again and five being press play right now)
Not Missing the Riff: 5 of 5 (one being pure Hell with no riffs and five being not at all)
A pretty decent movie, probably one of the better ones I’ll see. Sadly.