The Unearthly (1957)

Decent B if you’re not expecting a whole lot with John Carradine as a mad scientist and Tor Johnson as his just about brain dead servant.

Dr.Charles Conway (John Carradine) thinks he can stop the aging process. He’s developed a seventeenth gland that he thinks will do the trick. His first experiment didn’t go so well. Check out his servant Lobo (Tor Johnson) and you’ll see why.

Conway’s pal, Dr.Loren Wright, supplies him with patients for his so-called cure for depression. The qualification is that they don’t have any family that will miss them. Loren brings him Grace Thomas.

Outside the remote facility is Mark Houston (Myron Healey). He just finished hiding a gun in the bushes when Lobo sneaks up on him. He does a Swedish Angel move and dumps him in the house. Conway says he knows he’s actually a killer on the run. He offers him a place to hide.

Two patients are Natalie (Sally Todd), a real babe and Danny who is in a constant state of agitation. Conways’ long time assistant is Dr. Sharon Gilchrist. Conway explains his noble experiments to Mark. He’s only doing it for the good of humanity. He’ll make everyone immortal. It’s a funny scene with all the “scientific” jargon.

In the cellar is a man in a cataleptic state just sitting in a chair. Another botched experiment. Conway decides to entertain his patients by sitting down at the organ and blasting out the horror movie staple Bach’s ” Toccata And Fugue In D Minor.”

Conway tells Natalie she’s almost ready to go home. There’s just one more experiment to go. Through it all Mark is suspicious and starts investigating. He drags Grace and Danny into it. Grace isn’t so sure. She likes Conway.

Time to operate on Natalie. Conway puts his seventeenth gland into Natalie. Will she live forever? There’s a funny scene in the cellar with Danny and Lobo. I don’t know how Tor kept a straight face with the dialogue he had to say. Guess he was used to it.

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Prisoner’s Friend-Andrew Garve (1962)

andrew garve-prisoner's friend

Gets off to a slow start as the story involves a released prisoner tries to adjust to life in rural England. Things start happening and the eyes of suspicion are on him. Perfect for anyone who likes to follow a path to detection towards the solution.

Veterinarian Robert Ashe is a visitor at a prison. He goes once a week for a year and tries to help them. One he’s ready to take a chance on is Terry Booth. He did three years for hitting a man over the head with an iron bar during an unsuccessful robbery.

Robert sets him up with a job in a garage owned by Laurence Winters. Robert’s wife Nancy is uneasy around him as is Laurence’s wife Mavis. Terry seems to have settled in and is a loner. Everyone is getting used to him. He looks like a typical thug but he hasn’t caused any problems.

He becomes attached to the Winters’ maid Sally. Mavis isn’t happy and wonders whether to try and break it up. Sally’s uptight parents may do that when they hear about it.

Robert and Nancy as well as Laurence and Mavis take separate vacations. Then word comes of big trouble. There’s evidence a cash drawer at the garage has been jimmied. It may have happened before Terry got there but suspicion still falls on him and that makes him bitter.

Mavis leaves their vacation early. Then she’s found murdered and the house is ransacked and the safe broken into. Terry said he would report to the police for questioning but disappeared.

Robert loses faith in him and Terry is eventually captured trying to stowaway on a boat. Terry is angry that Robert doesn’t believe him.

Anything further would be an unfair spoiler. Just follow along with Robert as he looks into things.

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Don’t Drink The Water (1974-75)

don't drink the water

Spin off from “On The Buses.” This one only lasted thirteen episodes. Inspector Blake (Stephen Lewis) has retired and moved to Spain with his sister Dorothy (Pat Coombs)_

Opening episode: July 27,1974 – “Home From Home?” – After thirty years at the bus company Cyril retires and buys a flat on the beach in Spain. He only saw it in a brochure. His sister Dorothy goes with him. Things start going wrong even before they get off the elevator.

Once inside their flat Cyril goes to check out the view of the sea. It’s right behind the apartment building that’s under construction. Two workmen are in the bathroom. Cyril gets rid of them and discovers the plumbing is falling apart.

The neighbors drop by. It’s gregarious Englishman Bill with his fancy lady Beryl. That night Cyril opens the window and in come the mosquitoes….and a lizard. Then there’s the storm. Now there’s no electricity. Cyril wants to complain to the owner. He’s in Madrid….doing five years.

The next day Dorothy wants to go back home. The porter tells them the electricity is back but there isn’t any water. He shows them a cafe across the street that advertises English Tea.

In the cafe they run into Bill and Beryl. Cyril says they’re selling their flat and going back to England. Bill says hundreds of flats are for sale and they’re stuck. Cyril gets mad and wants to contact a government official. In walk two local coppers. Cyril calms down in a hurry.

Stephen Lewis had a great run as the hapless Smiler on “Last Of The Summer Wine” (1988-2007).

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The Living Ghost (A Walking Nightmare) (1942)

Dull comedy mystery about a missing banker. Nick Trayne gave up the detective business but is convinced to take the case. It all takes place in a house full of suspects.

Banker Walter Craig has been kidnapped. Ed Moline wants his friend Nick Trayne (James Dunn) to take the case. Trayne gave up the detective business and now calls himself Brother Trayne, The Sympathetic Ear. He listens to people tell him their troubles at two bucks an hour.

Ed and Walter’s secretary Billie Hilton (Joan Woodbury) drop by his office. After some ribbing by Billie, Nick agrees to look into it. They all go to Walter’s house. Some of the people inside are Tina, Walter’s daughter, Helen her stepmother who she can’t stand, Tina’s fiancee Arthur, Della Phillips, Walter’s sister, her husband George, Della joins a lot of cults, Cedric the creepy butler and Walter’s friend and former partner Tony Weldon.

In the middle of the night everyone hears Della screaming. She’s staring at Walter. He’s in a chair in a catatonic state. A doctor says he was put in that state on purpose. Nick arranges to meet George in the garden. He finds him stabbed to death with Walter standing over him. He spots someone running away. It’s Arthur. Questioning by Police Lt.Pete Peterson shows Arthur is innocent.

Nick manages to get word of a special piece of equipment that could have put Walter into that state. It was purchased by a Doctor Carson. He gets the address of a house Carson rented and he and Billie go out to investigate.

They crawl through a window of the abandoned looking house. After a long and boring sequence someone takes a shot at Nick and he fires back. Out in a hall they see a man in a zombie like state just standing there.

They go back to Walter’s house where Nick finally solves the case. This movie isn’t worth spending time with. At times it attempts to be wacky and it falls flat. It’s more annoying than anything else. A bit in Nick’s office with double talker Danny Beck is a chore to sit through.

James Dunn appeared in a few Shirley Temple movies. He starred in the TV series “It’s A Great Life” as Earl Morgan (1954-56).

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The Seren Cenacles-Warren Norwood and Ralph Mylius (1983)

warren norwood-ralph mylius-the seren cenacles

The planets have been experiencing food riots and even cannibalism. Now amino acids in the form of spheres have been discovered on Euphrates. The Helical Mine Corporation is in charge and its manager is the green tinged Kalissae Borisith-Major. She has a mouth full of canine teeth that make some think of vampires but she’s not one of those. She’s from Pflessian. Things start going wrong and miners are being killed. The Free Syndic sends Bedfor Odigal to investigate. He’s in sub vocal contact with an alien named Issy who may be the last of its kind. Using sarcasm it helps him make decisions.

Psychominer Theeran can use telekinesis to turn an area inside out to get to the ore. Something goes wrong and she’s killed. Then a laser crew tries to break through and four more die.

Right away there’s contention between Bradford and Kalissae as he begins his investigation. Bradford has a long scar on his face. Kalissae is shocked as it disappears. He finally explains that it’s really his symbiotic partner Issy that’s been with his family for generations.

He starts to examine the ore core when a serious shot like electricity takes him over and knocks him out. Nothing like an accident to warm the heart of someone from Pflessian. Her boss, Director Nicholas Malvin. wants to evacuate the mine and that includes Bradford while he’s still out.. To save her job she reluctantly agrees.

Bradford comes out of it but Issy is missing. Kalissae tells him what’s going on. Before the ice can totally thaw between them she has to admit she backed her boss’ decision to get him out of there. Bradford says he’s not going anywhere until he finds out what’s in that core. He may not have a choice since security knocks him out with some gas and carries him off.

Bradford wakes up and he’s aboard his own ship. It’s being piloted by Chief Stancell from Euphrates. He’s been ordered to take Bradford to Tigris where the evacuated miners have been taken. It looks like a mining company security ship is about to blow them out of space. Nothing like a threat to make enemies pals.

The two get the best of the situation and thanks to a distress signal have to go to Tigris anyway. Back on Euphrates Kalissae gets a surprise when Malvin’s assistant, Arter Rosenthal, reveals that he’s a member of an organization called Quiet Suns. They were thought to have been  completely eliminated. There’s no job too dirty they won’t do for the central government.

Rosenthal tells Kalissae and Malvin that the mine has to be destroyed and the two of them along with it. Coming back after ending up on his home world is Issy. He enters Kalissae’s mind. Now things get nasty….real nasty. Issy is a Selen and that may be the key to everything.

No hard science or theory about life and the universe. It’s a solid story that entertains all the way through. One note: It would have been nice if someone had told cover artist Barclay Shaw that the female character was green.

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The Mouthpiece (1932)

the mouthpiece 1932

Warren William proves why he was one of the best as he plays a sleazy lawyer who keeps the crooks out of jail. Kudos also to Aline MacMahon as his loyal secretary. This is one not to miss.

Vincent Day (Warren William) is a zealous prosecutor and his impassioned speech to the jury gets a man sentenced to the chair for killing a girl. On the night of the execution the real killer is caught. Too late. That makes Day quit the D.A.’s office. A bartender tells him there are big bucks in keeping crooks out of jail. Vincent opens his new practice.

Vincent makes a reputation and doesn’t mind pulling whatever courtroom stunt it takes to get his clients off. No shortage of those as he has an agreement with a crooked bail bondsman. Vincent’s office is run by the loyal Miss Hickey (Aline MacMahon).

Saying he has to see him is a man who embezzler ninety thousand dollars. How Vincent handles this is something to see. Of course he makes a nice profit.

Vince is also a womanizer and he has his sights set on the new naive typist fresh from Kentucky, Celia Farraday (Sidney Fox). He makes some moves but she’s so innocent she doesn’t have a clue of what he’s up to.

In court he’s defending Tony Rocco (J.Carrol Naish) who is a poisoner. Another stunt gets Tony acquitted as an admiring Celia looks on. Vincent goes to a hotel to see a married woman. The desk clerk (Charles Lane) points out her husband in the lobby. Time to work on Celia.

Celia is engaged to Johnny Morris. That’s not going to stop Vince from trying. He leaves Tony’s celebration party early to get back to his apartment. He has Celia coming over under the guise of work. She and Johnny are out on the town and he’s not happy she has to go to the boss’ apartment.

Vincent puts the rush on her and she reads him the riot act and tells him she despises him. Before she storms out he convinces her to stay at the office one more week. It’s now Celia’s last day. He gives her a check he got for writing an article and she starts to see the decent guy under all the sleaze.

Hold on. She’s not going just yet. Johnny has been arrested and charged with a bond robbery. Vincent is out on a bender. Miss Hickey finds him and sobers him up. She even shaves him. She asks Vincent to help him. He uses his contacts to get Johnny bailed out. Then he finds out a former client, Joe Garland (Jack La Rue) is the guilty party.

This is one for the must see list.

Warren Williams would play Perry Mason in a number of 1930′s movies.

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Bedlam (1946)

Boris Karloff is perfect as the slimy George Sims who runs the asylum known as Bedlam. Realism takes a back seat in this movie based on the William Hogarth engravings “The Rake’s Progress.”

The time: London-1761. A man falls to his death from a window at St.Mary’s Bethlehem Asylum known as Bedlam. He was helped along by Master Sims (Boris Karloff). He was an acquaintance of Lord Mortimer (Billy House) and was going to write a poem for a Masque Mortimer was throwing.

With Mortimer as he identifies the body is actress Nell Bowen (Anna Lee). Sims says he’ll write something and provide the inmates as entertainment. One young man covered in gold gilt dies when his pores close up and that draws a lot of laughs from the crowd. Nell is starting to have her doubts.

At the asylum a Quaker stonemason, William Hannay is waiting to talk to Sims about some work. Sims tries to bribe him and Hannay rejects his offer. Sims leaves him as Nell visits the asylum and is given a tour.

She seems upset at what she’s seen but won’t admit it to Hannay. Later she asks help from politician John Wilks to improve conditions. That gets her into trouble with Mortimer who is in the opposing political party. Mortimer agrees to reforms until Sims tells him how much they’ll actually cost. He and Sims conspire to get Nell locked up in Bedlam.

Hannay sneaks in and sees Nell. She convinces him to give her his trowel so she has some method of defense. One night she helps an inmate by putting cloth under his chains. To do that she has to put the trowel down. Someone takes it.

Nell is due for another sanity hearing. The night before Sims says he’ll get her ready with a special treatment he’s devised. That gets the attention of the inmates and they grab him. Nell escapes. What will happen to Sims?

The unrealistic part is that after a week in the asylum and living in a huge room with other inmates and only some straw to lie on, Nell looks picture perfect. Not a smudge on that pretty face. Her hair continues to look like she just walked out of a beauty parlor. Not a tear or any kind of mark on her clothes. If there’s any reason to watch this at all it’s for the acting of Karloff as Sims and Billy House as Lord Mortimer.

Anna Lee had an over sixty year career in movies and TV. Her final role was as Lila Quartermaine in “General Hospital.”


Anna Lee-Boris Karloff

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