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When American scientist Larry (John Shepperd), on his way to meet his
fiancee Madelon (Lynne Roberts) at her mad scientist dad Renault's (George
Zucco) mansion, stops at an inn for the night, someone (Jack Norton) is
killed at the place, and everything suggest that it was probably Larry who
was meant to be killed. There are two main suspects in the case, Noel (J.
Carrol Naish) and Rogell (Mike Mazurki) - Dr Renault's butler and
When questioned by the police though, Renault
strongly disputes either of his employees could have had to do with it,
even though Rogell is a (hardly) reformed criminal, and Noel is ... just
really really weird. That night, the guard dog is found hanged, and again,
Rogell and Noel are the prime suspects, and again Renault refuses to blame
either of them. However, behind everyone's back, Renault locks Noel up in
his lab and forbids him to come out again until his daughter is happily
married to Larry and off to America, suggesting that Noel feels
unnaturally attached to Madelon, and he might have killed both the dog and
the man at the inn out of jealousy.
While Renault, Larry and Madelon are
all out at a village fair though, Noel breaks out, follows them there, and
kills two men (Max Willenz, Charles La Torre) who have ridiculed him.
Larry takes Madelon back to the mansion and finds Renault's journal
detailing Noel's origins - he was originally a gorilla ("played"
by Ray 'Crash' Corrigan in a couple of photographs) whom Renault has
turned into a man, to ... well, to prove what a great scientist he is.
Renault catches Larry with the journal, but then enter Noel, who knocks
out Larry and kills Renault - but in the meantime, Rogell has kidnapped
Madelon for no reason at all, and his animalistic instincts make Noel
follow them to the old windmill - Rogell's home away from home -, where he
kills Rogell before being gunned down by the police.
into vintage horror movies, you'll probably at least enjoy this one,
which, while (loosely) based on a lesser known novel by Gaston Leroux,
mixes motives of the Universal
Frankenstein-series with elements from H.G. Wells' The
Island of Dr. Moreau and plenty of pulp mainstays - but the
resultis a very middle-of-the-road, slightly dull piece of horror
that's rather old-fashioned and predictable in approach, doesn't handle
either it's mystery or its science fiction elements too interestingly, and
it's carried by a
cookie-cutter direction ... which of course comes across as charming for
vintage horror lovers like myself looking for a typical movie from its era, but hardly spells masterpiece. At least
Zucco, Naish and Mazurki give memorable performances, while the rest of
the cast, well, varies in quality.