3 December 2010 | icaredor
Voodoo, Science, and a Piece of String
Sadly the days when a lone, mad scientist, toiling in the basement of his sinister mansion, could perform miracles over life and death with just a few test tubes and pulsing lights, without thought of glory or patent rights, have been curtailed by the corporate monopoly of science; the simple human desire to revivify the dead, trumped by the thirst for profit. Happily, voodoo has, thus far, eluded the grasping grip of greed (ouch!) and retained its humble individuality.
Voodoo Man returns us to that simpler time when science and magic worked hand in hand. It is another absurd poverty-row horror, filmed in seven days, in case you can't tell, by Bill "One-Shot" Beaudine for Sam Katzman's Monogram Pictures. Lugosi plays Marlowe, another mad scientist with another ailing wife. Indeed this wife is rather more than ailing: for 28 years she has been dead, but not in the sense we understand the word, of course. He tries to reanimate her by transferring to her the life force of abducted female motorists. Marlowe has some impressive technology – an impressive surveillance system, a car disabling ray, and some weird wife maintenance machinery. Still, he isn't one of those finicky skeptics who practice science nowadays. Like the alchemist, he recognizes the potential to improve scientific outcomes by utilizing magic.
This film is sensationally silly especially given the quality of the cast. This may not be Lugosi's most absurd role; unfortunately, the same can't be said for Carradine and Zucco. Carradine plays Toby, Marlowe's jogging, dimwitted henchman, who kidnaps women and doubles as Marlowe's percussion section. His bizarre performance is only over-cast by Zucco who plays Nicholas, gas station proprietor and voodoo priest. Zucco usually brings an air of dignity to the foolish roles he plays but this one is beyond him. While Toby bashes a bongo, Nicholas, in a cheap college gown and "Phyllis Diller wig," chants gibberish at a piece of string in the name of Ramboonya who is, apparently, all powerful. And, to be fair, Nicholas is getting results until meddling relatives and policemen interfere with the ceremonies.
This film has remained too obscure and deserves a far greater audience. Amazing stuff.