A group of 18th-century scientists, led by Dr. Murdock, have remained young after all these centuries by using electricity to suck the life out of young women. If one of the scientists misses a treatment, his skin hardens to the toughness of stone. A female prisoner discovers why so many of her fellow inmates are disappearing, and attempts to stop them with the aid of a prison psychiatrist. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
ANOTHER MEMORABLE LOW-RENT POTBOILER FROM COLUMBIA!
One of the more interesting permutations of the late 1950s "man into monster" genre (arguably started by Jack Arnold's haunting THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN), this quickie Columbia programmer has more than its share of shocks, some smart dialogue and a gleeful sense of the perverse.
Essentially a murder mystery in postwar horror trappings, the LaSalle Detention Home For Girls is home to a bunch of troubled teens, as well as alot of mysterious deaths. (1957 was a good year for JD girl gang movies, with gems like REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS and TEENAGE DOLL).
Tina Carver (remember her in FROM HELL IT CAME?) is great as a wise-cracking teen convict who's way over-the-hill.
Creepy old Victor Jory is fun to watch as Eric, a mongoloid zombie who kidnaps the nubile young convictettes. He turns old before our eyes, and gets rejunvenated by treatments in an ersatz electric chair.
To do this, young girls are drained of their life fluids (against their wills, of course). One girl's eyes roll to the ceiling in a disturbing death scene. She is then hung from the rafters to fake suicide.
The diabolical experiments all take place in a terribly cheesy laboratory setting, almost as absurd and makeshift as the one in Ed Wood's surreal BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. In fact, but for the moodier lighting here, the two sets might be equally unbelievable.
The ever-seedy William Hudson (ATTACK OF THE 50 FT. WOMAN) is cagey as ever as Dr. Rogers, state psychiatrist, who uncovers the plot by a group of old coots to stay alive forever via the stolen blood of homeless teens. (Hey, what a great idea!)
In one great scene, one old guy named Cooper is left to decay, and he ends up looking exactly like Zacherle, famous TV horror host. Later, Eric goes nuts and attacks the girls in their sleeping quarters.
A later scene, of a young captive girl being drugged against her will, is a theft from the pure exploitation film of yore (from which drive-in films borrowed heavily).
The 30-second parting shot is quite effective. Starting with a long shot of the burning laboratory, all of the girls stand in front, and then run away. The camera closes in on Rogers and Adams, walking away. Producer Katzman seems to have liked these long, elaborate final shots: CREATURE FROM THE ATOM BRAIN had a spectacular one.
Although the predictable screenplay tends to drag overall, there is enough crackling dialogue, and moments of sheer disbelief to more than compensate, turning THE MAN WHO TURNED TO STONE into a memorable low-rent potboiler.
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