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One of my favorite guilty pleasures. Lon is brought back from the dead and sets out to ice his backstabbing partners-in-crime.
on January 6, 2014
THE STORY: Lon Chaney is Charles "Butcher" Bensen, a bank robber ratted out by his three criminal co-horts when he keeps the loot from their recent heist and refuses to divulge its whereabouts. Rail-roaded through the system, imprisoned & sentenced to death, Bensen vows to kill the three finks... even if he has to do it from beyond the grave! Luckily for the Butcher, immediately following his execution his body is purchased by an unscrupulous scientist's assistant, for the purpose of conducting unconventional experiments involving cellular regeneration. Robert Shayne (Inspector Henderson from the 1950's "Superman" TV show), and an uncredited Joe Flynn (Captain Binghamton from "McHale's Navy"), work their medical hocus-pocus on the Butcher's fresh corpse, and before you can say "Leapin' Lazurus!" the Big Guy is lumbering back to life, (understandably NOT in the best of moods), and immediately begins hunting down his former partners. Casey Adams (aka Max Showalter, who played Grandpa Fred in John Hughes' "Sixteen Candles"), is police Lt. Dick Chasen (good lord, was that name intentional?), a by-the-book cop who is determined to get his man, er... corpse, er... whatever, at any cost. He also provides voice-over narration, like many great old 1940's gumshoe flicks, to keep us from getting too confused,.
THOUGHTS: Let's be honest. This is an undeniably silly movie, but there's just something about it. It has a zany charm that I felt the very first time I watched it. This new "Widescreen Edition" is the 2nd or 3rd version of this film I've owned. That's how much I like it. It is goofy as all get out, but has real heart. It takes itself seriously but is too off-kilter to be enjoyed as a serious film from either a sci-fi perspective or as a crime drama. But... as a whacked out mishmash of both genres, it succeeds with flying colors!
THE DVD: This release from Bayview Entertainment/Widowmaker touts it as being a hi-def transfer in its proper widescreen format. The presentation here is certainly much cleaner looking than any of the other grainy, muffled-sounding, splice-ladden, washed out Public Domain releases that I've endured over the years. No, it's not a frame-by-frame Hi-Def restoration like Ben-Hur or Gone With The Wind, but it looks pretty dang good. I don't pretend to know all the history behind this low budget quickie, so I cannot say for sure whether or not this widescreen presentation is the proper aspect ratio. The picture fills my HDTV screen and the print quality looks quite nice. If you pick up a used copy thru Amazon then it's an even better bargain. 5 STARS for this goofy yet charming Lon Chaney Jr. sci-fi/crime noir/horror time-waster. It's perfect fare for late night viewing or any day when the weather's crummy.