In Spain, Leon is born on Christmas day to a mute servant girl who was raped by a beggar. His mother dies giving birth and he is looked after by Don Alfredo. As a child Leon becomes a ... See full summary »
Dr. Alfred Morris, a university chemistry professor, rediscovers an ancient Mayan formula for a gas which turns men into pliant, obedient, zombie-like ghouls. After medical student Ted Allison becomes a guinea pig for Morris, the professor imagines that Allison's fiancée, beautiful concert singer Isabel Lewis, wants to break off the engagement because she prefers the professor as a more "mature" lover but n reality loves Eric, her accompanist. In order to bring Ted back from his trance-like states, Morris commands him to perform a cardiectomy on recently deceased or living bodies in order to use serum from their hearts as a temporary antidote. When the serial murders seem to coincide with Isabel's touring schedule, ace reporter "Scoop" McClure gets on the mad scientist's trail. Written by
One of the lesser Universal horrors is a still enjoyable if decidedly silly outing. The former is due largely to the typical low-budget atmosphere (from intermittent graveyard raids, for plot purposes, down to the recycled music cues), George Zucco's equally reliable presence as the obligatory mad scientist (with this in mind, the title actually referring to the 'human monster' of the piece has always struck me as kind of desperate) and, to a lesser extent, Robert Armstrong ditto as the fast-talking but ill-fated reporter who cracks the case. The 'monster' (afflicted by sudden 'attacks' which transform him, in a matter of seconds, into a scruffy and wizened zombie) is a student in love with a renowned singer (resident Universal scream queen Evelyn Ankers), predictably also desired by the elderly Professor - deluding himself, a' la the Bela Lugosi of THE RAVEN (1935), that she corresponds this affection - but who has herself fallen for the accompanying pianist (the just-as-ubiquitous Turhan Bey) of her concert tour. Obsessed with the Ancient Egyptian ritual of death-in-life (improbably involving a release of poison gas followed by an impromptu heart transplant!), Zucco first experiments with a monkey but soon turns his attentions to a human specimen for which his naive assistant (a surgical genius no less) fits the bill perfectly (however, no attempt is made to explain how he manages to operate repeatedly on himself since, naturally, it transpires the effect of the revivification is only temporary without being fully conscious of the fact!). As I said, this is standard low-grade fare not quite as good as even the minor classics among Universal's second outburst within the genre, though certainly nowhere near as bad as the worst of the lot - THE CAT CREEPS, SHE-WOLF OF London and THE SPIDER WOMAN STRIKES BACK (all 1946).
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