Tuesday, November 17, 2009

'The Industructable Man' is low point
for Lon Chaney Jr

The Indestructable Man (1956)
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr, Casey Adams, and Marian Carr
Director: Jack Pollexfen
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

After executed killer and armored car robber Charles "Butcher" Benton (Chaney) is accidentally revived, made bullet-proof, and given super-strength by a researcher experimenting on cadavers, he sets out to get revenge on his former partners in crime. Along the way, he butchers anyone who gets in his way.

"The Industructable Man" is 45 minutes of excitement stretched out to 70. And it's done with cheap sets, cheap special effects, and cheap actors. It also does it with a cheap script by a pair writers who don't quite know the rules of storytelling. They set up a situation where the vengeful "Butcher" might seem to kill our burlesque-dancing heroine (Carr) and then do nothing with it--and dammit, if there's a rifle over the fireplace in the first act, it needs to be fired by the third!

Another drawback with this film is the frequent close-ups of Lon Chaney's eyes. He looks like a broken-down drunk in the long shots, but the extreme close-ups of his wet, quivering eyes with bags under them almost as large as the eyeballs themselves does drives home the image. I'm sure the filmmakers had envisioned a sense of menace in those eyes... but all they really say is "Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?"

The one thing the film has going for it is its deadpan, "Dragnet"-style cops and narration. Nothing seems to faze these guys... or get in the way of their romancing exotic dancers at drive-in burger joints.

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