A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.A wisecracking New York reporter intrudes on a research scientist's quest to unmask The Moon Killer.
I only got this because I saw it at the library as part of a two-pack with "The Return Of Dr. X." It is part of a Hollywood "Legends Of Horror" package that includes several other films I am familiar with and think highly of, so I can see a possible future purchase.
Anyway, the first thing that struck me watching this was that fantastic two-strip Technicolor. Immediately there is a street scene of green and brown that looks tremendous....and eerie. You would think that only black-and-white might make this look eerie, but not so - that combination of green and brown was very effective and made this a fascinating visual film. Hats off to the UCLA film restoration team, which made this 75-year-old film look really good.
As for the story, well, let's just say it doesn't measure up to the visuals. It starts off looking like a fun movie, even - surprise - a comedy as the newsman "Lee Taylor" (Lee Tracy) cracks a few corny jokes. However, it settles down into a crime story (more than horror) and we wind up with a whodunit and a room full of suspects, a la Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes. The suspects are all scientists working in the Academy of Surgical Research. A bunch of recent hideous crimes by the "Moon Killer" were all done in the vicinity of the academy, so they're the prime suspects. Even the head man at the academy, "Dr. Xavier," looks a bit suspicious. He is played well by Lionel Atwill.
The police give "Dr. X" 48 hours to find out if any of his employees are the killer before they totally take over the investigation and ruin the reputation of the scientific institution. All of the scientists, by the way, look and act creepy which adds to the mystery. Heck, they all could be serial killers.
The film drags during much of that period - except for a short testing session that Dr. X sets up to see if any of his subordinates are, indeed, the killer. Apparently, it's true because someone kills one of the suspects during the experiment! Then there is another long lull and the cops are getting impatient with the good doctor. They give him another ultimate so he "tests" his employees again, this time using his daughter "Joanne" (Fay Wray) as a guinea pig, so to speak.
Then, we finally see who the real killer is and that part is fun to watch and he transforms into a hideous monster-like man. I guess this why the film is called a horror film instead of a crime movie. I won't give the ending away but I admit, it's pretty good.
If that long middle part had been spiced up a bit, this would have super, but it was too talky for too long. Still, this isn't bad and I love those two colors. I wish more movies looked like that.
- Oct 25, 2006