The Unearthly (1957)
“I’m a scientist! Thinking is my business.” Or how about……” In science nothing is taken for granted!”
When the scientist in question is John Carradine, we’re in for a very special schlock outing.
This black and white spook fest begins with lovely Allison Hayes arriving at the retreat of Mr. Carradine in hopes he can help her get over her nervous breakdown and better adapt to society in general. John seems more concerned about making sure she has no living relatives. Hmmmm.
Behind the scenes John is working on glandular transplants which sadly have some major side effects on his subjects. Disfigurement and a zombie like state. One of his subjects now resides as his manservant. None other than Tor Johnson as Lobo. It’s the same character name he used in what was essentially the same role for Ed Wood in Bride of the Monster opposite Bela Lugosi.
Into Carradine’s perfect operation comes Myron Healy as a convict on the run that John quickly blackmails into helping on his experiments as well as offering him the gift of eternal life. He astutely declines.
When it’s time to perform another experiment on poor Sally Todd, Carradine asks nurse Marilyn Buferd, “Did you sterilize my number 23 scalpel?” After all this is a big operation. “Clamp. Clamp. Wipe my brow. Number 23 scalpel. Clamp. Wipe my brow.” I love it when Carradine shows up in these films acting so seriously that his life must depend on it’s outcome being a film of note.
When another failed attempt at success results in poor Sally being facially mutilated Carradine may have to turn to stunning Allison Hayes for his next attempt. Not if our escaped convict who may be concealing his true identity has anything to say about it. He quickly goes to Allison to urge her to leave before John turns number 23 scalpel in her direction.
There will of course be a standoff between Healy and the lumbering beast that is Tor Johnson. All this to get to Carradine and stop his fiendish experiments on young unsuspecting attractive women.
“I’m holding a new civilization in my hand,” John exclaims as he attempts to defend his attempts at uncovering the secret to eternal youth. Like the great ones that came before him, John is sure to fail in the tradition of Karloff, Lugosi and company.
John Carradine is one of those actors that has that Shakespearean quality that translates so well to the low budget shockers as he goes about emoting his lines in fine fashion. He’s in great form here and his mad scientist role is not to be missed. It’s truly amazing how John moved from countless low budget schlock fests to A budget productions by first rate film makers of the John ford variety.
Miss Hayes continues to astound me with her knockout looks that in her day were confined to the “B” film productions like this double feature I caught not to long ago.
Tor Johnson and Mr. Carradine had just starred the year previously opposite a host of horror stars in The Black Sleep where Basil Rathbone led the transplant operations and John suffered at his hands. Tor never moved beyond the low budget fare but thanks to Ed Wood (and Tim Burton) has found his place in movie history.