The Undying Monster
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|The Undying Monster|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Brahm|
|Produced by||Bryan Foy|
|Written by||Lillie Hayward|
|Music by||David Raksin|
|Edited by||Harry Reynolds|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
The Undying Monster, also known as The Hammond Mystery, is a 1942 horror/mystery film directed by John Brahm and starring James Ellison, Heather Angel, and John Howard. The film, which features a werewolf as the primary antagonist, is based on the 1922 novel by Jessie Douglas Kerruish.
The Hammond family has been cursed since the Crusades, with family members dying or committing suicide under mysterious circumstances. When two people, including Oliver Hammond (John Howard), are attacked by an unknown creature, a Scotland Yard scientist, Robert Curtis (James Ellison), and his sidekick Christy (Heather Thatcher) are dispatched to investigate. Although the local townspeople are convinced that the attacks are the result of the Hammond family curse, Curtis seeks a more scientific explanation.
Curtis' investigation at the Hammond household reveals a number of unusual circumstances, including slamming doors and clanking chains, a recently entered secret room supposedly locked for years, and a statue of a strange dog-like creature in the Hammond family crypt. During his investigation, one of the initial victims of the attack dies (after being in a coma), and the case is sent to a coroner's jury for judgement. Upon hearing testimony from members of the Hammond family and their associates, the jury rules that the victim died at the hand of an unknown person or creature of unknown species.
After the ruling, Curtis looks for evidence upon the victim's body. He finds a hair that he later identifies as a wolf's, but the hair disappears mysteriously soon after he analyzes it. The monster attacks again, this time kidnapping Helga Hammond (Heather Angel), but Curtis and the police chase him down. When shot, the monster transforms into a human being, and we discover that it is actually Oliver Hammond. Afterwards, Dr. Jeff Colbert (Bramwell Fletcher), a friend of the Hammonds, reveals that they have been afflicted with lycanthropy for generations — that is, they are werewolves — and he had been attempting to cure them of the disease.
- James Ellison as Robert Curtis
- Heather Angel as Helga Hammond
- John Howard as Oliver Hammond
- Bramwell Fletcher as Dr. Jeff Colbert
- Heather Thatcher as Christy
- Aubrey Mather as Inspector Craig
- Halliwell Hobbes as Walton the butler
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2018)
Modern response for The Undying Monster has been mixed to positive. Film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film two and a half out of four stars, commending the film's atmospheric photography while also stating that it added nothing new to the genre. Dennis Schwartz of Ozus' World Movie Reviews gave the film an A-, praising the film for its atmosphere, cinematography, and suspense, calling it "[a] Superior telling of a werewolf". Schwartz's only criticism was directed towards the film's comedy relief, which he felt was unnecessary. Time Out magazine commended the film's atmosphere, cinematography, performances, and direction, while also criticizing the film's plot. Chris Coffel from Dread Central offered the film similar praise, while also commending the film's mystery aspects and plot, favorably comparing it to Universal Horror films.
Alternately, Stuart Galbraith IV from DVD Talk stated that, while it featured great atmosphere, and was well-made and directed, overall the film was "disappointing" due to its less than stellar cast and illogical plot twist. Michael Barrett of PopMatters rated the film a mixed score of five out of ten stars. In his review, Barrett pointed out that the film's title monster as the film's major fault, stating that special effects used to for the monster were ineffective and of poor quality, and the final explanation of the family "curse" was unsatisfactory. TV Guide gave the film two out of five stars, stating that while the film contained effectively "eerie atmosphere" and great location work, it was still just a knock off of Universal's Wolf Man.
- Meehan, 2010, p. 97
- The Undying Monster profile, worldcat.org; accessed 27 June 2015.
- Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 714. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3.
- Schwartz, Dennis (September 24, 2014). "The Undying Monster". DennisSchwartzReviews.com. Ozus’ World Movie Reviews. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Anon. "The Undying Monster 1942, directed by John Brahm". Time Out. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Coffel, Chris (November 18, 2016). "[Blu-ray Review] Fox Does Their Best Universal Horror Impression with 'The Undying Monster'". DreadCentral.com. Dread Central. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Galbraith, Stuart (January 14, 2017). "The Undying Monster (Blu-ray)". DVDTalk.com. DVD Talk. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Barrett, Michael (December 20, 2016). "Two Cursed Creatures: 'The Undying Monster' and 'The Lodger'". PopMatters.com. PopMatters. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Anon. "The Undying Monster - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TVGuide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
- Meehan, Paul (2010). Horror Noir: Where Cinema's Dark Sisters Meet. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-7864-4597-4.
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