There are many monsters that do not get a fair share of the attention. Sure, Dracula and his pals get tons of movies, but what about their Jewish colleagues? And, for the record, I do not mean the Jewish vampire from The Fearless Vampire Killers (or Pardon Me, But Your Fangs are in my Neck). No, I'm talking about The Golem. This poor guy has barely had a few movie appearances and only a few outside of film ones (if you count Hardrock of the 1980's Jonny Quest show). Most recently, he was portrayed as a nebbish Jew stereotype (intentionally so) by comedian Richard Lewis. He can do better than that! How about a film where teams up with that guy who played the lead ape in the Planet of the Apes films? That will work. In the grand tradition of Them and They Live, I bring you...
The film begins with a brief history of the Golem for all of the uninitiated. We cut to a burned down factory where a pair of museum workers are called in to investigate something. One thing has survived the building's demise: a giant, f-ing statue! The young one (McDowall) goes to get something from the car to test the statue's material. When he comes back, he finds his boss seemingly-killed. What could have done it? A random mugger? A giant bee? The statue? This question is raised for a while before we ever get an answer. In the meantime, the statue is put in the museum for all to see...and be creeped out by. The thing is just giant and ugly. Meanwhile, an investigator begins to look into the matter, ignoring the obvious signs of Roddy obsessing over the statue. He puts more attention into the lady who works at the museum, a young crumpet who just looks like a future lady-in-peril. Unfortunately for her, Roddy has eyes for her (yeah, right). What will happen to his unrequited love?
Fortunately for our definitely-not-gay lead, he learns that the statue is actually a Golem. I will give you a moment to catch your breath after that surprise. He begins to communicate with the monster, although it is pretty one-sided. Things only get worse for Roddy as he is denied the promotion he thought that was due to him (since his old boss died in the beginning). He gets crazier and crazier, turning this film into a fun character study. Sadly, the romantic sub-plot keeps coming back. The woman and 'stud' get all googly-eyed at each other, all the while missing the obvious signs. After the boss makes Roddy mad one time too many (and denies him visitation with the statue), the young guy sneaks back in and sends the monster to kill him. Over forty minutes into the movie, the thing finally moves on camera! Don't rush on my account. By the way, he kills the man off-camera- get used to this.
It takes a while (even a scene where the Golem brings down a bridge) before the investigator puts 2 and 2 together. By the time he has done that, Roddy has kidnapped the woman (not shown) and takes her to his aunt's castle (they do show this). Inside, she learns that Roddy's mother is actually a mummified corpse! Well, that explains his taste in best friends. We jump cut to the aunt talking to the girl in her room/cell. The girl talks about how creepy it was to have tea with Roddy and his mom- this too is not shown. What's the deal, movie? This is the re-released master version, so I doubt this was a cut for content. Anyhow, the police finally find the castle and surround it. They learn that the Golem is nigh invulnerable, as bullets and rockets do no harm to him (this they actually show). After all of this, Scotland Yard stumbles upon the most logical solution: drop an atom bomb on the place! That's a dramatic leap, people. Our investigator hero decides to re-enact The Great Escape and rides in on a motorcycle to save our heroine. The aunt is killed by Roddy, so he's not that good at being a hero though. They ride away, duck into a foxhole and hear the sound of the bomb drop. The End.
This movie is a weird piece of British film history for so many reasons. On one hand, the movie is a cross between a mummy film (with a Golem) and Psycho. The star was a popular character actor that would go on six years later to become an iconic man. They also force a big love story into this movie, which fits about as well as O.J.'s bloody glove. The biggest problem is simply the stuff that is not shown. I still don't know why they did that. In spite of that, the film is pretty enjoyable if you can accept that 60s films (especially British ones) were a bit slower paced than modern ones. This comes as a double-feature with the very under-whelming film The Shuttered Room. Had this movie been given any Extras, I would highly-recommend it. As it stands, it is a good transfer to a very curious film. Check it out, foreign horror buffs.
Up next, a look at the worst cinematic blight in H.P. Lovecraft's name. This is saying a lot, people. Stay tuned...