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DVD: Monster / The Revived Monster / El monstro resucitado / Il mostruoso Dottor Crimen (1953)

Film:   Very Good    
DVD Transfer:   Good  
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One 7 Movies
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March 12, 2013



Genre: Horror  
A sleuthy reporter becomes dangerously involved with a scarred, brilliant, mad surgeon determined to make the world as ugly as himself! Can Nora save herself?  



Directed by:

Chano Urueta
Screenplay by: Arduino Maiuri, Chano Urueta
Music by: Raúl Lavista
Produced by: Sergio Kogan, Abel Salazar

Miroslava, Carlos Navarro, Jose Maria Linares-Rivas, Fernando Wagner, Alberto Mariscal, and Stefan Berne.

Film Length: 80 mins
Process / Ratio: 1.33:1
Black & White
Anamorphic: No
Languages:  Spanish Mono
Subtitles: _ English
Special Features :  

Poster Gallery / DVD-Rom: Italian Photo-novel

Comments :  


Prolific Mexican director Chano Urueta worked small miracles in this almost zero budget shocker by grabbing the basic elements of the Frankenstein monster tale and reworking it into the terrible tale of a brilliant mad scientist who himself is scarred for life, but with the aide of his loyal assistant, transfers the mind of a feeble-minded, caged servant into the revived cadaver of a serial killer / Casanova to lure a duplicitous reporter back to his lair for the first of several ‘reverse operations’ that will turn pretty people into unfortunate souls scarred with ugliness equal to their tormentor – all in less than 90 minutes.

Warped and cruel, Urueta’s film is reportedly Mexico’s first “medical sci-fi” flick, and deserves the attention of B-movie and genre aficinados for its great combination of compelling story and fromage. The opening hook is brilliant: long marginalized reporter Nora (Miroslava) leaps at the chance to tackle an investigative piece on a reclusive, highly respected surgeon living solo in an isolated mountain castle. Crazy Hermann Ling (José María Linares-Rivas) is angry at the world for his dreadful disfigurement, and he’s determined to find a way to turn all of humanity - starting with babes - into a reflection of himself person-by-person until he falls for the pretty reporter. When he discovers her true métier, he goes bonkers and restarts Operation Uglification.

Linares-Rivas and Mirsolava play their role dead serious, and while the film was shot entirely in interior sets – a dock scene is clearly just a big photo backdrop hanging in the near distance of the small set, and all in-car scenes are completely unconvincing – Victor Herrera creates highly atmospheric cinematography that almost hides the seams of the tiny sets. A chase through a cemetery is expertly scored and edited, and the town streets at night resemble the angular sets of German expressionism, especially The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1922). Indeed, Urureta borrows from Robert Wiene’s classic when crazy Dr. Ling creates his own somnambulist from the abby-normal remains of a serial killer (Carlos Navarro) whom Ling manipulates physically and mentally by pure mind control.

How Dr. Ling achieves his amazing mind transplant is immaterial, because actor Navarro plays the character as a compellingly conflicted soul; one can see the three personalities struggling for control: the suave serial killer smooth-talking his way with Nora using Ling’s articulate diction, and the formerly caged servant (naturally, a wrestler) who eventually overcomes his nervousness and takes control of the walking cadaver to halt Ling’s evil master plan..

Ling’s primordial Frankenstein makeup is quite hideous, and while clearly a heavy-set mask, Linares-Riva manages to add enough dimension through his deep voice and physical presence to overcome the makeup’s limitations. His castle is exceptionally detailed for a zero-budget production, with covered mirrors, odd nick-knacks, and a peculiar collection of creepy female mannequins which Ling ‘created’ as objects d’art to occupy his antsy hands but are more evocative of waxen cadaver parts hung, strung, and mounted like grisly hunting trophies. Director Urueta also positions a marvelous prop - a disturbing before / after head cast of Ling’s first great success – within the frame’s centre in several sequences to infer the degree of how far Ling can reconfigure a face to something straight out of a Brian Yuzna film (like Society).

Urueta and Arduino Maiuri’s scenario packs a lot of genre references into a short running time, and the finale is somewhat anti-climactic - rather than a big bloodbath of combat, there’s a wrestling fight to the death – but it’s a compelling little film, and while it could be remade with vivid blood and carnage, the film’s elegance and charm can’t be replicated.

One 7 Movies’ source print is pretty well-used, but fans accustomed to vintage PRC and Monogram B-movies won’t have any issues. Once little Nora leaps at the chance to cover a ‘real story,’ the plot subjugates any concerns for print quality. A stills gallery offers some vintage publicity materials, and a nice surprise is an 81-page photo-novel / fumetti version of the story, as originally published in 1970 as part of the Italian Wampir series.

Note: although shortened to a single world title and dated 1955, One 7's branding is bound to make it tough to find further details on this forgotten gem. The was released in 1955, and is better known as The Revived Monster.

Although he directed more than 100 films between 1928-1974, Urueta’s key thriller films seem to be among the few available on home video, albeit not in the U.S. Other entries – El cuarto cerrado (1952) and The Magnificent Beast / La bestia magnifica (1953) – are tough to find with English subs, and One 7 Movies’ DVD probably marks the first time an Urueta movie’s been released on DVD to English language audiences with subtitles.

Co-screenwriter Arduino Maiuri is responsible for writing a series of classic Italian films, including Mario Bava's comic book masterpiece Danger: Diabolik (1968), the spaghetti western Companeros (1970), Sergio Sollima's Revolver (1973), Enzo Catellari's Street Law (1974) and The Big Racket (1976).

Among the cast, the most iconic is Miroslava, the Czech-born actress who eventually settled in Mexico. She appeared in barely any Hollywood productions – Robert Rossen's The Brave Bulls (1951) and Jacques Tourneur's Strangers on Horseback (1955) are the rare exceptions – and just as her career was starting to rise in Mexico after starring in Luis Bunuel’s The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz / Ensayo de un crimen (1955), she was dead from suicide, and remains a tragic film icon. Arielle Dombasle portrayed the actress in the 1993 biopic Miroslava.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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