Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Electronic Monster, Relax and be Brainwashed

In the immediate years following World War 2, a resurgence of the Third Reich was a very real fear in Europe.  Just like the atomic bomb and its radioactive effects, science fiction films exploited this fear with many tales of Nazi mad scientists setting up shop in our own backyards.  Escaped Nazis were smart, cunning, and stole enough gold and currency to pay people off so they could set up labs with new identities and malicious goals.  At least, in films, National Socialist horror continued well through the 1950s.  Today we examine 1958's "The Electronic Monster" (aka "Escapement"), a minor scifi tale from England.
Jeff (Rod Cameron) is sent to Cannes to investigate the death of a hunk movie actor.  Jeff's insurance firm is set to pay a lot of money to the studio for this actor's demise.  But wait!  Our hunk finds out that the actor is one of many young, healthy people who have died from natural causes.  Oh yes, all of the deceased underwent psychological treatment at an institute owned by Paul Zakan (Peter Illing).  First, our hero arrives at the institute and interviews the attending doctor, Dr. Maxwell (Meredith Edwards).  What he learns is that the experimental treatment which clients undergo seeks to relieve anxiety and depression.
 As anyone who asks too many questions about the institute ends up dead, Jeff must be careful.  Uh oh, when he sets his sight on Zakon, he learns his old girlfriend Ruth (Mary Murphy) is now his fiance. As Dr. Maxwell develops a conscience, Zakon gets heavy handed.  Being the evil fiend that he is, Zakon murders Maxwell's beautiful wife/assistant (Kay Callard).  This impulsive behavior by Zakon will  not bode well for Ruth, as she too begins asking forbidden questions about this experimental treatment.  As Jeff infiltrates Zakon's complex, he sees that Ruth is one of many beautiful dancers assembled by the fiend. When Maxwell and Jeff find out Zakon's goal is to brainwash humanity and bring back the Third Reich, they must act. Unfortunately for Ruth, Zakon and his thugs figure out she is conspiring with Jeff and grab her.
Will Jeff rescue Ruth?  Are there easier and more efficient ways to brainwash the general public than dancing girls and electro-shock therapy?  Directed by Montgomery Tully and David Paltenghi, this 1950s scifi film is a lot of fun.  With square-jawed hunk heroes, lots of damsels in much distress, and evil Nazi type villains, this picture is sure to please.  "The Electronic Monster" is available on YouTube.  

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