Many of us out here grew up before the internet flooded every home and the only way to learn about films was through movie mags like Famous Monsters or hardcover coffee table books down at the library. I used to love signing out the books on the history of horror films and hoped to someday see all the outrageous looking films that these books would have big glossy photo’s of.
This variation on the Golem starring Roddy McDowall is just such a film.
Roddy stars here as an assistant museum curator who wishes to someday become the head man overseeing the day to day operations of the historical building and it’s artifacts. Into his hands falls the power to do as he pleases.
He’s discovered an ancient scroll that brings the stone creature to life to do his bidding. This includes removing those who stand in his way of success as well as any would be suitors to Jill Haworth who has caught Roddy’s eye.
Things are moving along splendidly for Roddy until American businessman Paul Maxwell begins to figure out that Roddy is using the stone statue for more than a museum piece. That coupled with the fact that he’s romancing Roddy’s dream girl pushes McDowall over the edge towards a fine bit of ham acting.
This Herbert J. Leder film moves along much like a Hammer film from the sixties era and is rather enjoyable thanks in no small part to the always delightful Roddy McDowall.
While totally watchable, the film is far from perfect. It seems that Roddy has been watching Hitchcock’s Psycho a little too much as he has a very similar mother issue that Norman Bates suffers through. As we near the final few scenes the film seems to lose it’s way with some quick cutting and snap decisions on how it’s all going to end. Perhaps if it truly was a Hammer production it would have all been a bit more memorable. Looking back Roddy in a sixties era Hammer production would have been a rather enjoyable event. Even if this had been an actual Hammer film we can almost be certain that this role would have been tailor made for Oliver Reed.
The script actually references the silent film that inspired it when Roddy uses that film as an alibi for his whereabouts. He claims he went to the cinema to see the film to better understand his museum piece.
Writer, producer, director Leder would also give us the Dana Andrews classic, The Frozen Dead which I’ll have to review on here sometime as it’s one of those titles I distinctly remember certain scenes of from childhood viewings.
As for this Roddy McDowall bonanza, glad I finally caught up with it. I can never see enough of the horror/fantasy films from yesteryear and of course all things Roddy.
Roddy was indeed delightful!
That he was. I miss his presence in film today.