Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Indestructible Man


At lunchtime I have been enjoying watching some of the old SF B&W B-movies they show on TCM. Watch a half-hour at a time, so your brain doesn’t get too fried. Some of them are even good. But I am not a fan of purely bad cinema, unless it is screamingly, unintentionally funny. This one isn’t scary, isn’t funny, isn’t even campy. It’s just sad, purely from hunger. Poor Lon Chaney, Jr. (Here he is credited just as Lon Chaney, which is sad, too. Especially considering that Lon Chaney, Jr., was not even his real name; it was Creighton Tull Chaney.) He tried all his life to live up to the genius of his old man. He got one good role in his life, in Of Mice and Men, and one type-casting role, in The Wolf Man. The rest of his career was taken up with pure schlock, though I hadn’t seen one as bad as this.

He is a condemned murderer known as The Butcher. He vows to come back to life after the gas chamber and get his revenge on the three partners who double-crossed him on a big heist. His dead body is delivered to a scientist who injects him with something that’s supposed to cure cancer. And he comes back to life, mute, but still remembering his vow. What luck for him! What were the chances that he would make a vow like that, and then be delivered to the one mad scientist on the planet who could (though inadvertently) bring him back to life?

It’s low, low, low budget. The script is unbelievably tedious. There is an interminable scene of the cop who has vowed to find the money from the big heist and the stripper who The Butcher is in love with, sitting in a car and telling each other their totally uninteresting life stories. It was written by two women, oddly enough, Vy Russell and Sue Dwiggins, who produced one more film between them: The Atomic Brain, AKA Monstrous. Vy vanished forever after those two credits, but Sue went on to a glamorous career as production secretary on some wonderful films, such as Deliverance, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, and The French Connection. But she wound up her career in craft services. You know what craft services is? It’s not even the caterer, it’s the truck where cast and crew can go for a bottle of Evian or an apple or a sandwich. I hung around a lot with craft services during the Millennium shoot in Toronto.

See what interesting details you can glean these days from Wiki and IMDb and other sources, from even the most mundane movies? Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. The main reason I watched this one all the way to the end is that there was a lot of shooting on and around Angel’s Flight in Los Angeles, before it was moved a few blocks. Also, there are scenes inside the Bradbury Building, our favorite building in LA. I love to see LA locations in the movies.