Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Walking Dead (1936)

Who’s In It: Boris Karloff (Frankenstein, The Man They Could Not Hang) and Edmund Gwenn (1947's Miracle on 34th Street)

What It’s About: John Ellman (Karloff) is executed for a murder he didn't commit, but is raised from the dead by scientists (Marguerite Churchill and Warren Hull) who knew he was innocent, but were too cowardly to come forward during his trial. That's when the people who framed Ellman start dying.

How It Is: People sure liked bringing Karloff back to life in the '30s. The Walking Dead is no Frankenstein, but it compares favorably to The Man They Could Not Hang. At least in terms of sheer filmmaking. It's a good-looking movie and I like that Karloff's character isn't so much a figure of blind vengeance as he is a symbol of poetic justice. The film spends some time building him into a sympathetic character and doesn't waste that goodwill by turning him into a homicidal maniac. He doesn't so much murder his victims as he does just sort of harbinger their deaths. That's a refreshing change from how these kinds of stories typically go.

On the other hand though, if I want cheesy, pulpy fun, I'm going with The Man They Could Not Hang, even though its a far inferior production.

Rating: Three-and-a-half out of five Santa scientists (Gwenn).

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