Monday, June 3, 2013

Film Pairings — Can’t Keep A Bad Guy Down

Life goes on for a pair of executed criminals, one in the 1946 film, Decoy, and another ten years later in Indestructible Man.
Both films are cinema curiosities.  Indestructible Man, no doubt a vehicle for horror star Lon Chaney Jr., is a low-rent blend of crime and monster film.  Chaney’s character is electrocuted for the crimes he committed, but his body is pirated to unscrupulous scientists, who not only bring him back to life, but also inadvertently give him superhuman survival capability.  This enables him to exact revenge on all of those who have done him wrong. How can he be stopped? Bazookas?  Flame throwers?  Hilarity — well sort of — ensues.

Fortunately, the scientists have also rendered Chaney’s character unable to speak.  And all we have is the squinting close-ups of the mad man’s eyes.

Seems to me Decoy is a curiosity of a much higher order.  While there may be some kitsch value to the Chaney film — fun to ridicule — Decoy shows what can be done with a small budget even with the challenge of the highly stretched premise of an executed criminal brought back to life.  All you need are some good writers, talented actors and decent camera work.

The key distinction here, though, is plot.  The corpse is swiped from the gas chamber, provided an antidote to the deadly cyanide in order for a pair of even more devious thieves to find the money the criminal hid before he was caught and killed. The reborn, if not rehabilitated, con agrees to draw a map. There is feigned love and double-double crosses as well as the presumably fooled not being so easily fooled.   Twists and turns amount to something here, and the story is told well.  A little gem.  Sheldon Leonard is featured.

If you are at home in front of your big screen TV, fix something silly to sip on, perhaps with a gray umbrella — not too cheery — for the first one.  Skip the simple syrup for the second, sit back and enjoy.

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