The Man Who Turned To Stone (1957)
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. We’re not going to hurt you.”
What would you say to that when the line is being delivered by perennial nasty Victor Jory? I’d do my best to get out of harm’s way.
Using a detention home for girls as a backdrop, Mr. Jory heads a small group of scientists from the 1700’s who have found the secret to eternal life. Sadly like most immortals, he needs a steady supply of humans to keep him and his fellow immortals alive. Luckily for the group that includes Paul Cavanagh, Jory is the warden of this girls center and can easily make use of the poor souls within leaving none the wiser when he reports the occasional death or suicide.
The tension increases drastically among Jory and his followers when the transfusions needed from the living don’t last as long which only increases the number of donors and the frequency in which they are needed.
Inmate Jean Willes notifies care worker Charlotte Austin that is all not right in the girls prison and too many are going missing or turning up dead. Austin brings forth her studies only to have slippery Jory attempt to shrug them off as foolish innuendos. When the state assigns William Hudson to look into the issue and the alarming number of deaths, Jory and his crew might find themselves turning to stone much sooner than they would prefer.
Silly fun for the drive in crowd from noted producer Sam Katzman with Laszlo Kardos directing. Sam had an incredible amount of credits to his name including many of the Dead End Kids features and the Jungle Jim series among so many others. Click here to see his long list at IMDB.
Playing our main ghoul and key killer is Jory’s Frankenstein Monster like creation Friedrich von Ledebur. The make up gives him a very skeletal look in the zombie like tradition. He lumbers around picking up women in their nightgowns as their screams fall to convenient fainting spells. By the time he turns to stone I can’t help but recall that Hammer did it so much better in the 1964 flick, The Gorgon.
The use of the girls detention center doesn’t really get much play as it would a decade or so later when more skin and blood had seeped into what was passable for entertainment. More like the Philippine productions in the early seventies when women in prison flicks were great fodder for the “B” film circuit. Not to mention fans of Pam Grier.
The only face I recognized here among the inmates was Jean Willes. This time out she doesn’t get to play the sexy “bad girl” which I have always associated her with in the few appearances I have seen her in. Titles like The King and Four Queens where she tries her hand at seducing Gable.
Our main villain Victor Jory is an actor that I have seen numerous times and have to be honest, never really thought much of. Perhaps it’s because I find his roles are usually the same. Meaning one dimensional. There doesn’t seem to a likable bad guy among them. Bogie started out as a bad guy but he always impressed. Jory enters Karloff territory with this role but Boris would have displayed a likable genteel side to the whole farce that almost makes you root for him. I never read Jory that way.
Still, there’s always a certain amount of charm in these “B” thrillers meant for late night viewings when the lights are low and a host of Peter Vincent’s stature is to be found introducing them.