Thursday, April 3, 2008

THE PHANTOM CREEPS

Legendary screen villain Bela Lugosi stars in THE PHANTOM CREEPS (1939) a 12-chapter cliffhanger serial produced by Universal Studios.

As scientist Dr. Alex Zorka, Lugosi is a certifiable madman determined to take over the world with his inventions, which include exploding spiders, an invisibility belt, an awesome 8-foot robot with a monster’s face, and an nigh-indecipherable accent. In each chapter he is opposed by the forces of law and order, who find themselves completely overmatched by the nutty professor’s brilliance… and their own astounding incompetence.

VCI’s disc presents all 12 chapters in their original full-frame aspect ratio. Unfortunately, THE PHANTOM CREEPS proves a troublesome property, as there doesn't seem to be a good quality surviving print of the chapterplay in existence. VCI's is no exception – the print quality on this disc is generally terrible, with tons of damage and bad contrast – but it’s more bearable than any other DVD I’ve found of this serial. The disc also includes a Porky Pig cartoon, PORKY’S MIDNIGHT MATINEE, as a bonus feature, and great cover art.

It’s really not one of the best Universal serials, being overly talky and repetitive, but, as always, no matter what the material, Bela Lugosi is a pleasure to watch, and he seems to be having fun, too. For cliffhanger fans or Lugosiphiles, I doubt you’re going to find a better version available commercially.

BUY: Phantom Creeps