Lionel Atwill is a mad scientist who thinks he can bring back the dead. Even with that premise this isn’t a horror movie. It’s a mixture of crime and comedy with Una Merkel way,way over the top, so much so that she gets real annoying and takes away from the overall production.
Dr.Ralph Benson (Lionel Atwill) has successfully experimented on bringing animals out of suspended animation in his Market Street office. He tells a man that’s down on his luck he’ll get a thousand dollars if he can be his first human experiment. Benson says he’ll be able to cure not just one or two diseases but all of them.
The experiment works….kinda. The man will never get a disease. He’s dead. His wife shows up with the cops and they break in. Benson has gone through the window and is now on a ship heading for New Zealand. He’s using an alias and has disguised himself.
On board is Detective Crandall. Benson overhears him talking to the Captain about Benson. Benson and Crandall are alone on deck. Crandall doesn’t recognize him. Benson gets behind him, hits over the head and tosses him overboard. Jim, a ship steward sees it all. He chases Benson but he gets away.
Later a fire breaks out and it’s time to abandon ship. One lifeboat containing Benson, Jim, ship’s officer Dwight (John Eldredge), Patricia Wentworth (Claire Dodd), her ditzy Aunt Margaret (Una Merkel) and boxer Red (Nat Pendelton) lands on an island.
Native Barab runs back to tell Chief Elan (Noble Johnson). He’s busy watching his wife Tanaa die. He says it happens everytime traders land…evil spirits. The natives bring everybody back and they’re informed they’ll be the guests of honor at a bonfire. In fact, they’ll be in the bonfire.
That’s when Benson reveals who he is and says he can bring her back to life. A little adrenalin he just happens to have in his doctor’s bag and Tanaa is back. Elan pronounces him god of life and he can have anything he wants. He wants the lifeboat destroyed so the others can’t sail away to the nearest police station.
Tanaa says he should get himself a white wife. That’s okay with him and he picks Patricia. She has overnight to decide. He also tells her he plans to use one of the three men as his next experiment. That night they decide to steal Barab’s boat and get out of there. Tanaa tells Benson what’s going on and he orders Elan to bring Jim to him.
Dwight takes the opportunity to steal the boat for himself. Barab sees him and chases after him. The two end up drowning each other. Benson walls Jim up in a cave and says he won’t bring him back until Patricia marries him. They are joined in a native ceremony. Benson still doesn’t release Jim. Red and Margaret tell Elan that the evil spirits will return unless Jim is brought back.
Benson brings him out of it. Jim tells the others that he was in suspended animation and not really dead. Then a discovery gives them an idea.
Overall it’s not bad if you can ignore, or at least try to ignore, Merkel’s manic performance. Atwill is just as corny as he’s supposed to be and he is fun to watch.
John Eldredge appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. He played Henry Archer, father of Corliss in “Meet Corliss Archer” (1954-55).