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Joseph H. Lewis
Dame May Whitty,
A mad scientist is forced to leave San Francisco when his experiments become known. He lands on a tropical island, takes control and terrorizes the local populace. The survivor of a shipwreck washes ashore on the island, sees what is happening and determines to free the natives from his rule. Written by
SHOCK! entry first seen on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater in 1965
1941's "The Mad Doctor of Market Street" was the second time Lionel Atwill starred as a crazed scientist after receiving top billing over Lon Chaney in "Man Made Monster," but settled for second below Una Merkel here, who was coming off one of her best known roles, playing the ditsy daughter of W.C. Fields in "The Bank Dick." Una's likability survives intact, despite her unfunny material (can't say the same for Nat Pendleton). Nearing the end of her screen career was lovely Claire Dodd, busy at Universal that year ("The Black Cat" and Abbott and Costello's "In the Navy"), while cowardly scoundrel John Eldredge is in familiar form ("The Black Cat" and "Horror Island"). Even Noble Johnson ("King Kong") appears as a dignified native chief, not easy under such studio bound conditions. Atwill's Ralph Benson escapes a murder charge in San Francisco, only to wind up a prisoner on a South Sea island, until a demonstration of his technique on suspended animation on a supposedly dead native woman makes him 'God of Life' among the savages, who grant him his every wish. I certainly can't blame him for coveting Miss Dodd, just as he eyed beautiful Anne Nagel in "Man Made Monster" (here reduced to a cameo as his first victim's widow). Writer Al Martin earlier scripted Lugosi's "Invisible Ghost" (also directed by Joseph H. Lewis), and in 1957 turned out "Invasion of the Saucer Men," a rare science fiction comedy. Included in Universal's popular SHOCK! package of classic horror films issued to television in the late 50's, and aired 3 times on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater, Dec 18 1965 (following 1959's "The Hideous Sun Demon"), Dec 28 1974 (followed by 1970's "Night of the Witches"), and Sept 3 1977 (the first feature), paired with the only screening of 1934's "Secret of the Château" (a Claire Dodd double feature!).
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