Monday, 28 October 2013

5 Horror Movies Where Scientists Go Bad

**Please note that there may be spoilers throughout the blog**

I love scientists in horror movies, especially the ones during the 50's and 60's, when the world was open to any knew idea and anybody in a lab coat and glasses could make an atomic monster, keep a head or a talking brain alive or could work toward seeing into another dimension with just some bubbling test tubes, a Tesla machine and aanother machine that goes bing.  Most of these scientists were working for the betterment of mankind, but sometimes accidents happen and experiments go wrong.  Then these noble men of science, usually became monsters and tried to destroy the people and society that they once tried to help. 

Here are 5 Horror Movies where Scientists Go Bad

5. X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963) - Dr. James Xavier is a scientist developing eye drops that will change the world!  These eye drops will change the range of the visual spectrum and allow people to see beyond the normal spectrum and into the ultraviolet, the x-ray and beyond and will help doctors and scientists every where!  Unfortunately, his grant is under review and he is told by his new assistant and lady friend, Dr. Fairfax that the board will likely pass on his project.  So in an attempt to prove to the board that his eye drops work, James starts using the untested eye drops on himself.  His experiment is a success and James can see through paper, pencils and clothing!  Meow, Dr. Fairfax!  Unfortunately, the eye drops are so powerful that the side effects make him sick and can't go to the hearing for his project.  He sends Dr. Fairfax and his best friend, Dr. Brant and they lose the funding for his project.
  He is asked to stay at the hospital, even though his project has been terminated and to help assist on a surgery.  The night before, he visits the patient and with the use of his new and improved x-ray eyes, discovers that the doctor is operating on the wrong part of the heart.  He pleads with the surgeon to change the surgery but no dice, it will go as planned.  The next day at the surgery, James takes over by slashing the surgeon and doing the operation his way.  After the surgery, there is talk about James being sued for malpractice and in a rage, James accidentally knocks his best friend, Dr. Brant out the window.  Now wanted for murder and addicted to the evil eye drops, James hits the road and tries to survive the only way a man with X-ray eyes can!
  I really enjoyed this Corman classic but it's a different kind of horror.  It is more sci-fi drama than an out right horror, which doesn't make it bad but there just isn't a lot of blood or deaths.  Writer Stephen King (Christine, The Dead Zone) has noted that this film has a Lovecraftian element too it, when James starts to go mad when he cannot comprend the godlike creatures he begins to see in the center of the universe.
  Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder, Frogs) is excellent in this and he creates a character that you feel a deep sympathy for.  His character is trying to do the right thing but he has gone out of control.  Surprisingly, Don Rickles (Innocent Blood, Casino) is very good in this as a shifty sideshow barker/manager, which is a nice change for Rickles.  The ending is great and ties things up nicely with a really graphic scene at the end.  If your looking for more of an emotional roller coaster with some weird sci-fi in it, this horror tale might be for you.  

4. The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) - Dr. Henry Jekyll is a reclusive scientist, in a loveless marriage with his philandering wife, Kitty, who happens to be dating his best friend, Paul Allen, who comes to Henry when he needs help paying his gambling debts.  While all that is going on, Henry is trying to prove that the human mind has two distinct sides, an evil side and a good side and concocts a serum, which he decides to test on himself.  The serum turns this bearded sad sack, Dr. Jekyll into a dashing, vibrant and very violent young man, Mr. Hyde.  Mr. Hyde hits the streets of London and soon discovers his/Jekyll's wife in the arms of Paul Allen in a seedy dance bar.  Down but not out, he puts together a plan to destroy Paul and win back his wife.  He introduces himself to them as Hyde and becomes best of friends with Paul.  Hyde then makes a deal with Paul, that he will pay his debts if he takes him to see the underbelly of London.  Paul agrees and the two spend the week exploring bars, houses of ill repute, opium dens and really seeing what kind of taboos they can break.  Unfortunately, Henry is still inside the mind of Hyde and is battling to return but he only seems to come back shortly because the Hyde's personality is too powerful.  Can Henry defeat Hyde and reclaim his body and soul or is his personality going to be buried alive forever in the mind of madman Hyde!?!?
  This film was not quite as well received as some of the other Hammer films but I still found it to be very enjoyable.  Paul Massie (Call Me Genius, The Naked Eye) is very good in the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde.  Also, Christopher Lee (Sleepy Hollow, Dracula Today) is superb  as the smarmy best friend, Paul Allen and just happens to be sporting some pretty dope sideburns in this film.  The story is an interesting take on the Robert Louis Stevens story and well navigated by one of my favourite regular Hammer directors Terence Fisher (Horror of Dracula, The Mummy).  Again, there is a lot of blood and violence, it becomes a more human horror with Hyde trying to win back his wife's love and Jekyll trying to defeat the monster that lives inside him.  It's an interesting film that I'm sure any fan of Hammer horror will enjoy.   

3. The Fly (1958) - Andre Delambre is scientist who works from home, which he shares with his wife, Helene and his son Philippe, creating inventions for his company that he owns with his brother, Francois.  His newest invention is a teleportation machine, which he tells Helene, will change the transportation industry forever. No shit sherlock.  Unfortunately, there is one problem, it can't transport living things.  After a disastrous attempt, that sent a monkey into the nether world, Andre locks himself into his lab to work on this matter.  After a few days, Helene goes to check on Andre and discovers him hiding his face with a cloth over his head and a mutated hand.  Andre explains that something went wrong with the experiment and his molecules have been meshed with a common house fly! Bet you didn't see that coming!  Can Andre with the help of Helene reverse this awful mutation or is Andre left for all eternity to be buzzing around the fruit bowl?   
  Vincent Price (Comedy of Terrors, Beach Party), who plays Francois, first comes to mind when one thinks of this title, the truth is Mr. Price isn't the star nor is he really in it that much.  Andre is actually played by David Hedison (The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Lost World), who gives a stellar performance, even though a half of the time he has his head cover in a cloth or giant fly mask.  Along with Patricia Owens (Ghost Ship, Sayonara), who plays Helene, they give an outstanding performance that is both convincing and terrifying.  Your heart breaks for these characters and you want them to find a way to fix the problem before it's too late.  Although the film doesn't have the budget or the gory effects that the David Cronenberg remake did, director Kurt Neumann tells a horrifying story with an ending you will not forget.   

2. The Invisible Man (1933) - On a dark snowy night, a mysterious man wrapped in bandages comes to the Lion's Head inn and demands a room.  He is shown his way to his room and he tells the innkeepers wife that he wants his luggage he brought from the train station tomorrow and that he does not want to be disturbed.
  At the same time, Flora Cranley pines over the "disappearance" of her boyfriend, Dr. Jack Griffin.  He was a chemist, that worked with her father, Dr. Cranley on some scientific matters while working on his own secret project in his spare time.  Luckily or unluckly for Flora, her father's other assistant the moustachioed lothario Kemp,  is happy to be her new boyfriend.  This of course brings tears to eyes, like many other women before her.
  After a few weeks, the staff and patrons at the inn have had quite enough of their ill tempered guest and try to throw the bandaged bastard out.  The stranger takes off his bandages and to everyone's shock, he's naked! I mean invisible! And he assaults a police officer and a few patrons and high tails it out of the inn.  The stranger is Dr. Griffin and he heads to Kemp's house to ask for his assistance in helping him take over the world.  Can anything stop the Invisible man from taking over the world or can the police bring him down to his invisible knees?
  Claude Rains (Notorious, Casablanca) is awesome in this movie and like the Fly, you rarely see him.  Most of the time, he's either bandaged up or it's just his voice heard.  James Whale (Frankenstein, The Old Dark House) once again takes another classic horror novel and adapts it perfectly for the big screen.  There isn't a lot of blood and gore but there is a surprisingly large body count due to the insanity of the invisible man.  He thinks big and in volume.  If you like classic horror this is one that you need to see.

1. From Beyond (1986) - Dr. Edward Pretorius, like Dr. James Xavier, wants to see more of what's going on in the world and believes that if he enlarges his pineal gland then he will be able to see into another dimension.  With the help of his assistant, Crawford Tillinghast, Pretorius has built a machine, The Resonator that will do just that and it's ready for it's first run.  Unfortunately, it works a little too well and Pretorius and Crawford open up a new realm, which is fantastic but then a creature appears and devours Pretorius's head.  Terrified, Crawford attacks the machine with an axe and gets the fuck outta dodge, only to be picked up by the police and thrown into a mental institution because of his wild descriptions of the nights events.
  Luckily, Dr. Katherine McMichaels, a sexy mental health professional wants to help Crawford to get better and makes a deal with the police to go with Crawford to the Pretorius's house and he can show her what happens.  So Crawford, Katherine and a police escort named Bubba, go back to the house to recreate that night's terrifying events.  Crawford reluctantly gets the machine up and running and Katherine and Bubba can't believe what they're seeing or feeling.  My pineal gland has never felt this get before!  And then a mutated Pretorius appears and tries to grab Crawford and the Katherine shuts the whole thing down.  Bubba and Crawford are good too go and happy that they have the proof to keep Crawford out of the looney bin but Katherine wants to stay, and like Dr. Pretorius expand her pineal gland to see what is beyond.  Will Crawford and friends survive another night with the Resonator or will they be sucked into the other realm and be eaten by creatures from beyond?
  I love this movie and I think it's one of the better H.P Lovecraft adaptations to come out.  There is such a killer team of people working behind the camera on this film, like director/writer Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, Pit and the Pendulum), producer/writer Brian Yuzna (Society, Necronomicon), writer Brian Paoli (Dagon, Castle Freak) and producer Charles Band (Puppet Master, Tourist Trap) who want to create the most terrifying experience that they can.  Then in front of the camera, add in a minimal cast but a superb one, like Jeffery Coombs (Re-Animator, Robot Jox), Barbara Crampton (Body Double, Chopping Mall) Ted Sorel (Without a Trace, Network) and Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead (1978), Devil's Rejects) and how can you go wrong.
  This movie has everything, weird shit that comes from another dimension, mentally unstable characters and there is even some S & M shit, if you like the kinky stuff.  The special effects team is awesome and come out with some outrageous creatures.  There are so some serious flesh eating scenes that you won't soon forget.  This is a must see or own for any horror fan out there.

So after seeing these films, I have a terrifying new respect for science and wonder if any terrible tales have been hidden away of real scientific horror.  Has someone gone mad from looking into a new reality, has someone meshed there DNA or are there killer tomatoes that are ready to attack mankind at any time? Who knows, only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. From Beyond is great! Gets overshadowed by ReAnimator. Perhaps all pay homage to all the Frankenstein movies.