The Phantom Creeps
|The Phantom Creeps|
|Directed by||Ford Beebe
Saul A. Goodkind
|Produced by||Henry MacRae|
|Screenplay by||George Plympton
|Story by||Willis Cooper|
|Edited by||Irving Birnbaum
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
(edited feature film)
The Phantom Creeps is a 1939 serial starring Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist who attempts to rule the world by creating various elaborate inventions. In a dramatic fashion, foreign agents and G-Men try to seize the inventions for themselves. A 78-minute feature film version of the film, cut down from the serial's original 265 minutes, was released for television showing in 1949.
It was adapted in DC's Movie Comics #6, cover date September–October 1939, the final issue of that title.
The first three episodes of The Phantom Creeps were lampooned during the second season of the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Dr. Zorka, a rogue scientist, is the creator of various weapons of warfare, including a devisualizer belt which renders him invisible; an eight-foot tall slave robot (Ed Wolff), robot spiders that can destroy life or paralyse it and he also has a deadly meteorite fragment from which he extracts an element which can induce suspended animation in an entire army. Foreign spies, operating under the guise of a foreign language school, are trying to buy or mostly steal the meteorite element, while his former partner, Dr. Fred Mallory, miffed that Zorka will not turn his inventions over to the U.S. Government, blows the whistle on him to Captain Bob West of the Military Intelligence Department. Tired of answering the door and saying no to the spies and the government, Zorka moves his lab. When his beloved wife is killed, Zorka, puttering around for his own amusement up to this point, is crushed and swears eternal vengeance against anyone trying to use his creations and to make himself world dictator. And would have if not for his assistant Monk, an escaped convict virtually enslaved by Zorka, who is cowardly, treacherous and totally incompetent, and whose accidental or deliberate interference with Zorka's efforts repeatedly frustrates his master's own plans...
- Béla Lugosi as Dr. Alex Zorka. Lugosi received top billing for this, his final serial appearance.
- Robert Kent as Capt. Bob West
- Dorothy Arnold as Jean Drew
- Edwin Stanley as Dr. Fred Mallory
- Regis Toomey as Jim Daley
- Jack C. Smith as Monk
- Edward Van Sloan as Jarvis [Chs.2-12]
- Dora Clement as Ann Zorka [Chs.1-2] (as Dora Clemant)
- Anthony Averill as Rankin - Henchman [Chs.2-12]
- Hugh Huntley as Perkins, Dr. Mallory's lab assistant [Chs.2-12]
- Monte Vandergrift as Al - Guard [Ch.5]
- Frank Mayo as Train Enginner [Ch.6]
- Jim Farley as Skipper [Ch.9] (as James Farley)
- Eddie Acuff as Mac - AMI Agent [Chs.2-12]
- Reed Howes as Signalman [Ch.10]
- Ed Wolff as The Robot (as Edw. Wolff)
The serial contains some similarities with the earlier serial The Vanishing Shadow, such as an invisibility belt and a remote-control robot. Stock footage was used from The Invisible Ray (look closely and you'll see Boris Karloff), including scenes of Dr Zorka finding the meteorite in Africa. As with several Universal serials, some of the stock music came from the Frankenstein films. The Phantom Creeps' car chase was itself used as stock footage in later serials. Newsreel shots of the Hindenburg disaster were used as part of Dr Zorka's final spree of destruction after his robot, which is supposed to destroy the human race, is stopped due to the sabotage by Monk after being unleashed.
Universal tried to improve serials by eliminating the written foreword at the start of each chapter. This led to The Phantom Creeps being the first serial in which the studio used vertically scrolling text as the foreword.
The innovation of the scrolling text version of the synopsis at the beginning of each chapter was used for the Star Wars films as the "Star Wars opening crawl".
The Rob Zombie song "Meet the Creeper" is based on this movie. Zombie has used robots and props based on the design of The Robot in several music videos and live shows. The character Murray The Robot in Zombie's animated movie The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is also based on The Robot. The Robot also appears on the album cover for the single "Dragula".
- The Menacing Power
- Death Stalks the Highways
- Crashing Towers
- Invisible Terror
- Thundering Rails
- The Iron Monster
- The Menacing Mist
- Trapped in the Flames
- Speeding Doom
- Phantom Footprints
- The Blast
- To Destroy the World
- List of film serials by year
- List of film serials by studio
- List of films in the public domain in the United States
- The Phantom Creeps on IMDb
- Kohl, Leonard J (May–June 1996). "The Sinister Serials of Bela Lugosi". Filmfax magazine. p. 44.
- Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "14. The Villains "All Bad, All Mad"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. pp. 349–350. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
- Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "3. At This Theater Next Week". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5.
- Stedman, Raymond William (1971). "5. Shazam and Good-by". Serials: Suspense and Drama By Installment. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 138. ISBN 978-0-8061-0927-5.
- Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 225. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: The Phantom Creeps|
- The Phantom Creeps on IMDb
- The Phantom Creeps on IMDb (1949 TV film edited from serial)
- The Phantom Creeps is available for free download at the Internet Archive (Original twelve chapter serial)
- The Phantom Creeps is available for free download at the Internet Archive (1949 TV film edited from serial)
- The Phantom Creeps at AllMovie
- Profile in Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics
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