The Unearthly

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The Unearthly
Unearthly.jpg
Directed by Boris Petroff
Produced by Boris Petroff
Robert A. Terry
Screenplay by John D.F. Black
(as Geoffrey Dennis)
Jane Mann
Story by Jane Mann
Starring John Carradine
Myron Healey
Allison Hayes
Marilyn Buferd
Arthur Batanides
Sally Todd
Tor Johnson
Music by Henry Vars[1]
Cinematography W. Merie Connell
Edited by Richard C. Currier[2]
Production
company
AB-PT Pictures
Distributed by Republic Pictures
Release date
  • 28 June 1957 (1957-06-28)
Running time
73 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English

The Unearthly is a 1957 independently made American black-and-white science fiction horror film, produced and directed by Boris Petroff (as Brook L. Peters). It stars John Carradine, Myron Healey, Allison Hayes, Marilyn Buferd, Arthur Batanides, Sally Todd, and Tor Johnson. The film was written by Jane Mann and John D.F. Black.

Plot[edit]

At his psychiatric institute, Dr. Charles Conway (John Carradine) is surreptitiously experimenting with artificial glands to try to create longevity; he works with his minion Lobo (Tor Johnson) and his assistant Dr. Sharon Gilchrist (Marilyn Buferd). Conway receives his test subjects through an associate, Dr. Loren Wright (Roy Gordon), who delivers patients seeking treatment for lesser conditions. After this, they are then taken into the operating room for Conway's illicit surgery.

Wright delivers his newest find, Grace Thomas (Allison Hayes), who is seeking treatment for depression. When Conway balks at Wright for bringing him a patient with living relatives, he confides in Conway that he plans to throw Grace's purse and bags into the bay, to fool family and the authorities into believing she had committed suicide. He then asks Conway for a demonstration of his experimental progress; Conway takes him down into the basement, where he introduces him to Harry Jedrow (Harry Fleer), his latest victim. Jedrow is clearly alive, but severely disfigured and in a vegetative state; this concerns Wright, who reveals that Jedrow's sister is currently seeking him out. Conway is furious, since none of his patients were supposed to have ties of any kind.

That night, Lobo discovers Frank Scott (Myron Healey) roaming around the grounds. Scott attempts to conceal his identity, but Conway quickly deduces that he is an escaped convict from his description in the newspapers, as well as a telltale tattoo on his wrist. Rather than turn Scott into the police, he offers him the chance to take part in his experiments. Knowing the odds are stacked against him, Scott accepts his offer.

Scott is introduced to Grace the following morning, along with the two other patients: Danny Green (Arthur Batanides), who is being treated for anger issues, and pretty young Natalie Andries (Sally Todd), whose treatment schedule for a nervous breakdown is nearing completion. After demanding Wright to make out a certificate of death for Harry Jedrow, Conway happily informs Natalie that one last treatment for her is all that's necessary. While the other patients sleep, Natalie is sedated, taken to the operating room, and given an artificial gland along with a high dosage of electricity. The procedure backfires, and she ends up a senile old woman. They hide her in a back room.

Lobo is ordered to bury Jedrow alive, but Frank Scott sneaks out to the burial site and opens the coffin. Jedrow rises out of it and escapes, and Lobo - not having been alerted - buries the casket. Sharon confronts Conway about his apparent affinity for Grace, and requests that she be made the next patient to be experimented upon. Meanwhile, Scott begins attempting to reveal to the other patients that Dr. Conway is carrying out horrific deeds to their friends. After a failed attempt to reveal Natalie's fate, he manages to show Grace and Danny what had happened to her, only to get caught by Dr. Conway and Sharon. They detain Scott and Danny and prepare Grace for surgery.

Danny helps Scott escape by distracting Lobo, who fatally shoots him before being knocked unconscious. Scott confronts Dr. Conway with Lobo's gun and reveals that he is not a convicted murderer; he is actually Lt. Mark Houston, an undercover police officer sent to the psychiatrist's business to investigate it. Dr. Conway evades arrest, but is murdered by Jedrow. Lobo comes in and kills Jedrow, but Chambers' police backup arrive soon afterward and arrest Lobo and Sharon, barely saving Grace from the procedure. The police go downstairs and find Danny's body, and then discover a menagerie of beastly men, all failed subjects of Conway's longevity experiments. The police captain wonders, "Good Lord - what if they DO live forever?"

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Along with Anatomy of a Psycho (1961), The Unearthly was one of two films produced and directed by Boris Petroff as "Brook L. Peters." Originally called The House of Monsters, it was filmed over approximately five days.[4] The film was acquired by American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres Pictures after principal photography had been completed.[5][6] While the film credits Jane Mann with the original story, her co-screenwriter John D.F. Black (credited as Geoffrey Dennis) reports that she merely typed the script.[7] Tor Johnson appears as Dr. Conway's minion "Lobo", a role similar to his character of the same name in Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster (1955).[8]

Release[edit]

Theatrical[edit]

Released in the United-States on 28 June 1957, The Unearthly was distributed theatrically on a double bill with The Beginning of the End (1957).[5][9] It continued to be shown in theaters until at least 1962.[10]

Home Media[edit]

The film aired on television as early as 25 March 1962,[11] and eventually received multiple releases on VHS. It was released on DVD on 6 August 2002 by Image Entertainment.[12] The DVD of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode featuring The Unearthly (originally aired 14 December 1991)[13] was released by Shout! Factory on 16 November 2011.[14]

Reception[edit]

The film was reviewed negatively in Harrison's Reports, being described as "mediocre", "produced on a shoe-string budget", and "a feeble and trite effort, full of obvious theatrics and hammy melodramatic acting."[15]

Author and film critic Leonard Maltin later gave the film one and a half out of four stars, commenting "Mad scientist Carradine's experiments in immortality have resulted only in a basement full of deformed morons. Don't you join them."[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Atkinson, Barry (22 January 2018). Atomic Age Cinema: The Offbeat, the Classic and the Obscure. Midnight Marquee & BearManor Media. p. 42. GGKEY:NF7E3119WDU. 
  2. ^ Frank, Alan G. (1982). The Horror Film Handbook. Barnes & Noble Books-Imports. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-389-20260-8. 
  3. ^ Staff writer (19 August 1957). "Republic". This is Your Product. Film Bulletin. 25 (17). p. 23 – via Internet Archive. 
  4. ^ Phillips, Mark (April 1993). "Rocket Wrangler". Starlog. No. 189. Starlog Communications International. pp. 60–62. ISSN 0191-4626 – via Internet Archive. 
  5. ^ a b Kane, Sherwin, ed. (6 May 1957). "AB-PT Pictures Pairs 'Unearthly' with 'End'". Motion Picture Daily. 81 (87). Martin Quigley. p. 5 – via Internet Archive. 
  6. ^ Staff writer (10 June 1957). "Republic & AB-PT Pictures". They Made the News. Film Bulletin. 25 (12). p. 26 – via Internet Archive. 
  7. ^ Weaver, Tom (1 January 2002). Science Fiction Confidential: Interviews with 23 Monster Stars and Filmmakers. McFarland & Company. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7864-1175-7. I was working on the script [for The Unearthly], delivering pages, and then I realized it would become a nightmare if I kept doing it that way. So I just didn't show up for ten days, and finished it. I delivered it to Mr. Petroff, who gave it to Jane, his wife, who typed it. I can't type. [...] And then it was time for the picture to be edited and for credits to be discussed, and it turns out that Jane Mann, who was the one who typed the script last, put her name on it. And Mr. Petroff was not gonna pay me. 
  8. ^ Craig, Rob (25 September 2013). It Came from 1957: A Critical Guide to the Year's Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. McFarland. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-7864-7777-7. 
  9. ^ Kane, Sherwin, ed. (4 June 1957). "AB-PT Pictures Duo to 244 Houses in June". Motion Picture Daily. 81 (107). Martin Quigley. p. 5 – via Internet Archive. 
  10. ^ Apache Drive-In Theatre (4 September 1962). "4 Hits". C. The Arizona Daily Star. 121 (257). Tucson, Arizona: The Star Publishing Company. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com. 
  11. ^ Baggs, William C., ed. (25 March 1962). "Television for the Week". The Miami News. 66 (294). Daniel J. Mahoney. p. 66. 
  12. ^ Erickson, Glenn (5 August 2002). "The Unearthly". DVD Talk. 
  13. ^ Smasher, Adam (14 August 2014). "320 - The Unearthly". Mighty Jack's MST3K Review. 
  14. ^ Seroff, Adnrew (6 September 2011). "'Mystery Science Theater: The Unearthly' and 'Red Zone Cuba'". PopMatters. 
  15. ^ Harrison, P.S., ed. (July 6, 1957). "'The Unearthly' with John Carradine, Allison Hayes and Myron Healy". Harrison's Reports. 39 (27). p. 107. 
  16. ^ Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 714. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3. 

External links[edit]