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"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 Edward Van Sloan 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 ...
This serial is really fun. I love the emoting of Bela Lugosi. He wants to rule the universe and, doggone it, nothing is going to stop him. There are many pitfalls along the way. One is the usual incompetent sidekick who can't follow orders worth a darn. Another is his inability to keep a low profile. He is always putting himself out there where someone is able to spoil his efforts. There are spies and government agents. His valuable meteor is stolen a couple of times but he quickly gets it back. There is one touching scene where he causes the death of his wife, but he quickly blames the government for her death. As with all serials, there are a series of cliffhanging endings to scenes and he always seems to come out unscathed. I have to admit I was actually pulling for him. The government agents are too boring to come out on top. You can't tell the spies from the government agents without a program. There is also this cool robot who suffers from the same infirmity of slow movement that seems to affect mummies in that other genre. It was interesting to see that it was Lugosi's character that caused the Hindenberg to burst into flame. He throws a little explosive dart at it from a plane. Who would have thought. Anyway, it's a lot of fun, it makes little sense, and at the end we feel a little cheated.
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