This film, which I saw under the title RETURN FROM THE PAST, is a gloriously inept, amazingly miserable cash-in on the then-popular trend of horror anthology movies (in which a few short, separate tales of horrific irony are strung together by an onscreen narrator). All the hallmarks of Hewitt's unmistakable authorship are in abundance here.
First, there is the hiring of once-great, "anything for a buck" actors; in this case, John Carradine (naturally) and Lon Chaney Jr, in small roles which nonetheless gave the theater owners a name to put in the marquee. Secondly, Hewitt once again fills the cast with his oddball stock company of dreary, nasal-sounding "actors" (who is this Roger Gentry, anyway?). As well, the director's sterling use of half-finished sets, or plain black backgrounds (when there were none at all!) is such a feat that would even make Ed Wood blush if he worked under such insane conditions. Add to this, the surprisingly ambitious writing (for bargain-basement cinema, anyway) which paradoxes the miserable attempts at mise en scene. For such a bottom-of-the-barrel project as a Dave Hewitt film, one wonders why he bothered with such an adventurous screenplay (like WIZARD OF MARS or JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME, especially), when the insultingly bad production values would work against the ambition of the writing anyway. Thus, therein lies the strange dichotomy of Hewitt's work as a director. With a thrift-store budget, he really tried to make something out of nothing. Who can blame him if he didn't succeed?
Add some haphazard dubbing, some great juvenile cartoon blood dripping on the screen, and you have a truly beguiling piece of work. Anyone who insists on making tired, threadbare projects like this has to get a medal for bravery alone.