Written by: Carroll Jenkins on August 2nd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: USA, June 28th, 1957
Director: Boris Petroff
Writers: John D.F. Black, Jane Mann
Cast: John Carradine, Myron Healey, Allison Hayes, Marilyn Buferd, Arthur Batanides, Sally Todd, Tor Johnson, Roy Gordon, Guy Prescott, Raymond Guta, Harry Fleer, Gloria Petroff, Paul McWilliams
DVD released: August 6th, 2002
Approximate running time: 70 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Image Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.99
Synopsis: An escaped killer stumbles upon a remotely situated rest home for the emotionally disturbed. Seems the good doctor is experimenting upon recently recovered patients with grafts of an artificial gland intended to promote eternal youth. He hasn’t perfected the process as yet.
There are significant similarities between The Unearthly and Ed Wood’s Bride Of The Monster, the most obvious being the role of Lobo played by Tor Johnson in both films. The plot is basically the same – just substitute John Carradine for Bela Lugosi. John chews the scenery and delivers his impassioned rants with gusto, but Bela can’t be beat by any old Shakespearean hack.
In every respect The Unearthly is the more accomplished film. The art direction is outstanding [given the budget], the script is reasonably intelligent, and the performances are competent or better. There’s no stock footage, the direction is adequate if mostly pedestrian, and the film is tongue-in-cheek rather than campy. Don’t despair, as it does have its moments.
Lobo hulks around carrying coffins, burying people alive, and gets to deliver the best line of his career: “Time for go to bed”. He also lusts after Sally Todd who steals the film in a relatively small role as a patient who’s cured and “ready for release”. She seductively reads lines from a pulp novel at the dining table that probably inspired countless sex phone lines. Later she peels stockings and writhes about on the bed. Once she’s been experimented upon, the sex appeal falls upon the ample cleavage but limited thespian talents of brunette Alison Hayes. Sally is, however, still around in the dungeon in altered form for Lobo to gaze upon in unrequited love.
Also notable are Marylyn Buferd as the doctor’s possessive assistant (an Audrey Totter type) and Myron Healey as the anti-hero (William Holden type). Roy Gordon appears as a Lewis Stone type. No type casting here.
Sally Todd’s performance seems the indisputable inspiration for Juliet Landau’s performance in the role of Loretta King in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood. Just note her mannerisms and profiles. Likewise this appearance of the Lobo character must have inspired George “The Animal” Steele in his [speaking] role as Tor Johnson in Ed Wood (sorry, no turnbuckles to snack on).
The film is presented in a beautiful anamorphic widescreen. Some grain is evident in a few of Sally Todd’s bits obviously taken from a lesser source due to cuts in the primary source (like the seductive recitation). No close captions or subtitles.
A film that mixes horror and noir conventions with poverty row sensibility and minor studio budget. Much more enjoyable and engaging that it’s reputation would suggest, The Unearthly is recommended.