12/6/06

105 The Corpse Vanishes

(1942, Horror: Mad Science, b&w), with:

Commando Cody in Radar Men from the Moon: Chapter Three, Bridge of Death
(1952, SciFi/Serial/Children, b&w)

Evil henchman … Mike

Rating: 1/2*

In a nutshell:

Short: Commando Cody escapes a cave and runs away a lot.
Film: An evil orchid breeder drugs and kidnaps young women for his vampiric wife.

Short Summary:

In the nightgown of the sullen moon...The short is Commando Cody in Radar Men from the Moon: Chapter Three, Bridge of Death. In our last exciting episode, we waited to see how Cody and his buddy would escape the suspiciously chocolate milkshake-looking lava that gushed down upon them. In another cheap cliffhanger stunt, they escape through a side exit that they neglected to mention in the previous episode. In this episode people talk as little possible. Instead there is a brief fistfight, a dummy being thrown over a cliff, and no less than three long chase scenes--on foot, by spaceship, and by car. The end of the last chase crosses the eponymous bridge of death (unfortunately, not the one guarded by Terry Gilliam), which explodes, sending Cody’s flaming car into the river. Stay tuned for Chapter Four, kids!

Film Summary:

In The Corpse Vanishes, the evil Dr. Lorenz (Bela Lugosi) murders young brides on their wedding day with a rare breed of orchids, somehow timed to go off just as they’re at the altar. He then steals their corpses by hiring homeless decoys with rumpled hats and setting hearses on fire. He takes the bodies down to his secret laboratory and extracts their vital juices, which he uses to keep his violent and shrewish wife (a.k.a. the Countess) young and fresh.

Go-getting society columnist Patricia Hunter finds a deadly orchid abandoned at the scene. She tracks it to its creator, as it’s well known in the horticultural world that only Dr. Lorenz breeds lethal orchids. She hitchhikes out to his remote mansion, riding with the handsome and mustached Dr. Foster. Dr. Foster is the local country doctor, who makes overnight house calls to the Dr. Lorenz’s house to “work on” the Countess. (I guess they’re restoring her like an old Buick.)

An obligatory storm makes the roads too dangerous for travel, forcing Patricia to stay the night. During her stay she gets slapped around the Countess and visited in the night by an admiring hunchback. Said hunchback (Mike) is Dr. Lorenz’s henchman, along with his brother Toby the dwarf and his Cloris Leachman-esque mother, Fagah. Patricia sees Dr. Lorenz and his wife sleeping in coffins, witnesses him murder Mike, and finds some discarded bride corpses. This understandably raises her suspicions and she confides in Dr. Foster, who promptly forgets. When she raises the issue again, he claims he was hypnotized or sleepwalking.

They stage a phony wedding to flush out Dr. Lorenz, and arrest the orchid bearer as he arrives. Foiled, Lorenz gets Toby killed and kidnaps Patricia. He takes her home to feed his wife with her juices, but Fagah is outraged by the death of her sons. She stabs him to death as he strangles her. The Countess tries to get the juices herself, but Patricia wakes up just long enough to push her to the floor, where a dying Fagah finishes her off with her dagger. Having risked her life to to achieve journalistic success, Patricia decides to give it all up to marry Dr. Foster, setting herself up to hear the “I was hypnotized, or sleepwalking” excuse for the rest of their marriage.

Host Segment One:

Joel's new Exorcist machine.Joel invents the chiro-gyro, which spins your head three hundred and sixty degrees. Dr. Forrester has a squirting gag flower that shoots flames instead of water.

Host Segment Two:

Tom and Crow discuss photo spreads of their favorite movie robots, as seen in Tiger Bot Magazine.

Host Segment Three:

Joel and the ‘Bots play tag.

Host Segment Four:

Crow is a barber making conversation with his patrons, Tom and Joel. They discuss such things as people falling into threshers, and how many dead and dying clowns can fit into an ambulance.

Host Segment Five:

Joel and the ‘Bots do their “good thing about the movie and a bad thing about the movie” routine.

Thoughts:

Incomprehensible pseudo-science babble, goofy flying effects, fey, mincing aliens, and lengthy, balsa-wood-furniture breaking fights—these are what make Commando Cody fun. Unfortunately, this episode contains little to none of these elements. It’s just one long, boring chase after another with very little in between. By now we all know that in the beginning of the next episode something will be revealed that should have been shown at the end of this episode. I’m guessing that Cody will leap to safety at the last possible moment.

The host segments are okay. The inventions are kind of funny, but the idea of robots as sexual objects is a little odd. The best segment by far is the “Crow the barber” sketch, when they talk about the horrible clown accident. The best Joel-era host segments usually seem to be the ones where they just sit around and talk about ordinary things, taking them to really weird extremes.

...in other news, a flower deliveryman and the member of the wedding's clean-up crew in charge of disposing of the flowers have also died of unknown causes.  These deaths are not believed to be related.The movie’s got all the right clich├ęs: a mad doctor, a vampiric countess, a go-getting female reporter, a hunchback and a dwarf, and lots of young female victims. The problem is, it makes no sense, even by old horror movie standards. As Crow succinctly puts it in the final host segment, “He’s trying to commit an inconspicuous murder on the most conspicuous day of a woman’s life.” There have got to be easier ways to get fresh young female corpses. Some of the comments are pretty funny, but the movie’s bad pacing and unfollowable plot make it difficult viewing.