Saturday, November 2, 2013

Super Old-School Cinema: The Walking Dead

You didn't really think that I was going to review the TV Show did you?  Honestly now- you're so gullible!  All kidding aside, I do have an actual film to review.  The film is 1936's The Walking Dead, a film featuring Boris Karloff.  How many bad Karloff films are there?  He certainly has a better good/bad record than his arch-rival Bela Lugosi.  Sorry, you dead Hungarian Legend.  This film casts Karloff in a riff on his most famous role: The Creature from Frankenstein.  Ironically, this film is bundled on a DVD with Frankenstein 1970, a film I reviewed in 2010.  Yes, I could have watched this film then, but...well, I didn't.  The same thing happened with Prom Night 3 & 4, so go figure.  In that film, Karloff played a descendant of the famous Doctor.  In this film, he essentially becomes a different version of the Creature.  The plot involves a Judge, a murder and a man getting indirect revenge for his unjust punishment.  I forewarn you that this film is very much a creature of its time.  Even so, there's some interesting stuff going on here that's worth mentioning.  To find out just how much the dead walk (and if it's the Thriller Walk), read on...
A Judge doesn't listen to a threat made against him and convicts a Mobster all the same.  They plan to kill him, but need a patsy to pin it on (since they make obvious suspects).
Hey, Patsy...I mean, Karloff.  He plays a guy who they hire to 'watch the Judge for his wife.'  This is just to make him look guilty when they off the guy.

Oh and this same Judge sent him to Prison for 2 years.  That helps/hurts here.
In what feels like a side-plot, this guy and his fiancee are working for a Doctor of...um, Medicine, I guess.  It's never explained who he really is or why he has a direct line to the Governor (more on that later).
The two story tangents collide when the pair see the body being dumped in Karloff's car, but say nothing.  He gets convicted- via the old timey Spinning Newspaper Shot- and gets rushed to Death Row.

Unfortunately for Karloff, the Innocence Project wouldn't be invented for several decades.
Quick shout-out to the film for using a Dutch Angle before it became 'cool.'  It wasn't the first film by a long-shot, but it was still a bit rare.
The Doctor apparently has enough 'sway' to get the Prison to turn Karloff's body turned over to him!  They let him do an experiment on him to see if they can bring him back.

Unlike Silent Rage, he comes back...well, less invulnerable and bad-ass.  Oh.
Karloff uses his new lease on life to go over to the people behind his false conviction and...um, talk to them.  Yeah, he just kind of approaches them- since a barely-mobile Karloff = Solid Snake- and they accidentally kill themselves.
One guy backs out an open window, while another manages to back in front of a moving train!  Seriously, that happens!!!
The remaining men decide to, you know, shoot Karloff and this eventually kills them.  The Doctor wants to find out what happens when you die- since Karloff did that earlier, you know-, but gets none of that.

As for the villains, they crash into a light pole and die due to no doing of anyone.  Seriously, these morons just crash.  The End.
Not alot happens, but it is well-made.  It's hard to really explain this movie.  Actually, that's kind of a lie.  The film- if viewed from a modern perspective- is often painfully-simple.  Men commit crime.  Man gets blamed.  Man is brought back to life and seeks revenge.  The interesting parts involve how the story plays out for its time versus how it would play out today.  It's weird to see the guy brought back and not turn into some kind of mutant/monster.  It's weird to see him not go around murdering the people.  It's also weird to consider all of the lapses in logic that were just kind of accepted.  The Doctor has a line right to the District Attorney?  The District Attorney doesn't have a direct line to the Prison?  There are zero appeals for a man convicted of a Capital Crime?  The process doesn't take years?  So yeah, you have to live with all of that.  Regardless, The Walking Dead is a neat little film...but not much else.  It's not the classic of the Universal works, but far better than any of that Poverty Row business.  Since my original Stinger is missing, enjoy this chance to read the non-plot headlines on this fake Newspaper...
Up next, I begin Project Terrible right...with a film that has no business being talked about.  Sweet Jesus!  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Slow-moving but somehow not boring. Nice review.

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