This film combines aspects of a 1950s B-movie film noir with science fiction horror and stars Lon Chaney, Jr….though he only has a couple of lines. Apparently he underwent throat surgery around the time of the film and was therefore unable to speak during most of filming. So instead of having him speak, the movie focuses on closeups of his eyes when it wants to show his murderous intent. But even though he’s the main villain, a treacherous bank robber known as ‘Butcher,’ most of the story actually focuses on police detective Dick Chasen trying to find out where he hid his money after he double-crossed his partners. They set him up for Death Row. Now he’s back to life and nearly invincible, and he’s out to kill his former partners and anyone who gets in his way, including the police.
While it’s way before the likes of Friday the 13th and Halloween, Chaney has a brutish brutality that reminds me of a later generation of unstoppable terrors. He arrives on the scene to beat, strangle, and hurl people to their deaths. And he’s immune to bullets and knives. Hell, he takes a bazooka round with relatively little damage. In some ways, he’s a prototype of the slasher film, though he doesn’t just go after teenagers in the midst of a wet dream.
But like I said, the movie and exposition focuses on Detective Chasen…and that’s a big reason why I don’t think it’s that great. Chasen’s a pretty terrible cop who does his best investigating well after the criminal has been executed apparently. And his method of picking up women is to buy them a burger and then tell them his life story…which somehow leads to marriage in the end. This doesn’t work. I know, I tried it.
I wish the film had focused more on Chaney stalking his targets and throwing them down flights of stairs or pummeling cops who get in his way, but sadly there’s just not enough of that to really hold one’s interest in an otherwise banal film.
Hey, maybe don’t experiment with resurrection on the corpse of a hellbent criminal. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea.