"The Phantom Creeps" was Universal's 44th sound-era serial (between "The Oregon Trail" and "The Green Hornet") and was re-issued to theaters in 1949 by Commonwealth Pictures Corporation, a distribution set-up handling primarily Universal re-issues. Commonwealth had no hand at all in the production of this serial (as incorrectly shown on site) as they were a distribution company only. Some sources mistakenly identify them as the serial producer because all of the 1949 re-issue prints (and the 16mm prints sold to television circa 1952) show "Commonwealth Pictures Corp. Presents" above the title.There is a whole lot of difference between "presenting" and "producing", a fact that some sources appear to not know or don't care. The serial is of interest to some collectors as it re-unites Bela Lugosi and Edwin Stanley from 1931's "Dracula", and the crater-discovery of the meteorite fragment by Zorka in the serial is stock footage from Universal's 1936 "The Invisible Ray." The stock footage ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a serial, like the classic Radar Men on the Moon, and Buck Rogers. Unlike it's compressed TV movie version (1949), this more protracted version of Phantom Creeps wanders all over the map at a frenetic pace.
The Phantom Creeps is everything an old classic B sci-fi serial is supposed to be. It features Bela Lugosi (as Dr. Zorka), a mad megalomaniac genius with a utility belt and a sack of gadgets that would make Batman and James Bond blush, against a team of CIA-types, a reporter, and local law enforcement. Lugosi hams up a storm and really seems to enjoy himself in this immensely silly role. His somewhat untrustworthy and dull side-kick, played by Jack Smith is a great foil to his overbearing stage presence, and he makes a truly great sadist! The film is replete with clever and creative (for its time) special effects (plane crashes, all sorts of random electrical currents, cloaking technology) and a lot of technobabble reminiscent of some of the less palatable Star Trek series. For an added bonus, the creators threw in a plot, and a cast of well developed, if stereotyped, characters.
Ultimately, it's mindless, kinda trashy entertainment, but it's also a damn good time.
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