THE UNDYING MONSTER (1942)

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The Undying Monster Cover Stop staring at the screen, you silly sausage. And start slapping on some sunscreen in spite of the sun scooting off to sunnier climes. Go on. Do it now! As I saw it done in this 63 minute movie made in 1942! It was Directed by John Brahm; and it Starred: James Ellison, John Howard, with Heather Angel.


The Undying Monster - The Undying Canvas Print


THE STORY:
Ever since I first started to investigate the savage assault on Oliver Hammond (John Howard), something niggling at the back of my mind keeps on telling me that someone associated with this case is hiding something from me.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think Oliver's sister is one of these people. As a matter a fact, Helga (Heather Angel) was the very nice lady that initially discovered her brother lying wounded on the side of a cliff, and explained the circumstances surrounding a menacing monster which has attacked her family throughout the ages.

But what about their doctor, eh? Jeff Colbert (Bramwell Fletcher)! Why didn't he inform me about another piece of this particular pie? One attributed to someone else who got attacked on the same night Oliver did. Furthermore, why are the people living in the nearby village too crooked, too shady, and too dubious to want to speak?

Who can tell, huh! Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all takes a right bashing, when my lovely assistant Christy (Heather Thatcher) says to me, 'Move your ass, Robert Curtis (James Ellison)! We're now going to venture down into the Hammond Crypt'. As a death is on the cards - please give the judge my warmest regards - I spot a doctor on the prowl - and at the very stroke of midnight, a werewolf lets out a tremendous howl.




THE REVIEW:
Now if truth be told I wasn't expecting very much when I first sat down and watched 'The Undying Monster'. Honestly, dear reader. A part of me thought that it was going to be another one of those piss poor productions that told a bog standard story-line, and left me feeling unsatisfied upon its conclusion.

The Undying Monster Vintage Film Poster
Having said that, though, I'm happy to say that it didn't! Nah! Not really. Instead it was a fairly good horror movie to spend some time with. Not only because it looked very atmospheric on the eyes. But in addition to this, it also made me wait ages to see what the main monster of this piece actually looked like.

OK. I know that some people out there would have preferred it if the werewolf was on show sooner than it was (because you never really got to see old 'fur-face' till the end of this flick). Yet to me, personally, this 'awe of suspense' made this film more suspenseful to follow. Inadvertently instilling it with a very 'what the f*ck will it look like' vibe and disposition.

Another aspect about this adventure I enjoyed was how the screen was awash with stark blacks, sharp whites, and smatterings of grey, which lavishly imbued this overall production with a well polished sheen. Plus I have to admit, the two actors who played Christy and Robert in this film -- Heather Thatcher and James Ellison -- were both able to give this story-line an uplifting feel to it. Going so far as to say that their 'Gee-Whiz' attitudes and adventurous spirits, provided the general narrative with a well placed kick up the backside to it drive along at a healthier pace.

As for the story-line on the other hand, well, to be honest with you, folks, I'm not quite sure about that one at all. Despite the basic detective-type-mystery being laid out within the first quarter of its telling, in the same breath it also had a somewhat pedestrian method of unraveling itself. It started off with a 'Oh No! Someone's been attacked' pretext. It then progressed into a more 'Who did the attack?' type quandary. And from then on in, the cast of characters were interrogated one at a time, until the final goal was laid naked at the very last moment.


The Werewolf From The Undying Monster


Also, I wasn't too sure about how some of the actors spoke in this adventure either. Now maybe this is just me knowing how certain posh English people speak, but there was a stiffness and theatrical tone to some of their pronunciations. Almost as if someone in the 1940's magically saw the television series, 'Downtown Abbey', and tried to copy that.

The Undying Monster Long Vintage Poster Featuring James Ellison, John Howard, with Heather Angel
Anyway. By now I'm sure you got the basic gist of what I feel about this film. It was a so-so film. So I tell you what? How about some of these filmic-facts next! (1) '20th Century Fox' first released this production in America on the exact same day the French navy -- based in Toulon -- hid their fleet from their opposing Nazis forces. It was on the 27th of November, 1942. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Secret Monster' in Brazil; 'The Immortal Monster' in Germany, whilst in England it was re-titled, 'The Hammond Mystery'. (3) There were three taglines used to promote this picture. The first one was, 'HORROR to make you GASP!'. The second one was, 'LUSTS UPON BEAUTY!'. Where as the third tagline was simply, 'Sinister! Savage! Supernatural!'. (4) The majority of this movie was shot at '20th Century Fox Studios', Pico Boulevard, Century City, located within the Californian state of Los Angeles. (5) Ironically enough, this was the feature film debut of the all round American tough guy, Charles McGraw, who actually played a British horse groomer in it. (6) In that scene where the werewolf carries an unconscious Helga across the rocky coastline, you'll notice that she actually bends her legs to avoid hitting any rocks along the way. Ops! Filmic slip. (7) Excerpts from this adventure can be seen in two TV movies made in 1971, 'Return of the Ape Man' and 'The Human Monster', plus a 1991 installment of the 'Wolfman Chronicles'. (8) After this flick checked itself for flees, James Ellison starred in the comedy, 'Dixie Dugan'; John Howard starred in the drama, 'Love From A Stranger'; and Heather Angel starred in the mystery, 'Time To Kill'.


The Undying Monster Starring James Ellison, John Howard, with Heather Angel


Overall I'd say 'The Undying Monster' was a fairly middle of the road horror flick which looked great upon the screen. Even though most of the actors did a very good job of instilling some character into it, as push comes to shove, the lack of fright and flow to its general story-line let it down like a fur-less canine ready for its last howl.

Nuff said.

THE RATING: B-