Dr. Eric Vornoff recruits twelve men for an experiment to create a race of atomic supermen. Assorted police, reporters and a rubber octopus conspire to ensure fails - it just has to be another of Ed Wood's masterpieces.
Dracula's Radioactive Tentacle Hell
- Bride of the Monster review by Count Otto Black
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You rated this film: 3
Yes, it's Ed Wood up to his usual nonsense! And once again, the synopsis isn't terribly accurate. Dr. Vornoff most certainly does not "recruit twelve men", because that would have doubled the size of the cast, and Wood could barely afford to make the film as it was. Indeed, he only managed to complete it with financing provided by a man in the wholesale meat trade on the condition that his son got to star in it. This explains the casting of Tony McCoy as the male lead, despite his complete lack of acting talent or good looks.
The equally talentless and not terribly attractive Loretta King was cast as the female lead for similar reasons. Unfortunately Wood completely misunderstood her offer to help finance the movie and believed her to be rich, when in fact she wasn't, and was only offering to contribute a trivial amount. But by the time he figured this out, he was stuck with her. (His girlfriend Dolores Fuller, who was originally supposed to play that part, is the blonde who appears in one irrelevant scene because Ed had promised she'd be in the film.)
With two leads who between them have the charisma of Andy Murray and are only slightly prettier, the film is almost fatally compromised from the get-go. What saves it from being a tedious wash-out is the extraordinary performance of Bela Lugosi. He's old and obviously frail, but he gives it everything he's got left, which turns out to be quite a lot. What with his immortal "Home? I have no home!" speech, his hypnotic hand-gestures (watch out for the voodoo grip from "White Zombie"), and of course that scene where he fights a giant octopus, he has plenty to do, and he does it, not exactly well in the conventional sense, but certainly with enthusiasm!
The plot, such that there is one, hardly matters. How or why Dr. Vornoff created his pet giant octopus, and, allegedly, the Loch Ness Monster (unfortunately the budget doesn't stretch to showing us Bela Lugosi wrestling with Nessie), is never explained. The gigantic Tor Johnson lumbers about doing his usual schtick, which doesn't include anything you could honestly call acting. And, despite still being alive when he made this particular Ed Wood movie, in some scenes Bela is replaced by an unconvincing "double" in an attempt to persuade us that he is suddenly seven feet tall. And of course there's that hilariously immobile rubber octopus Wood borrowed (without permission) from a prop warehouse, which was supposed to be animated by a motor he didn't know about, and is therefore a lot less lively than it was when it got to grips with John Wayne in "The Wake Of The Red Witch".
This isn't really a three-star film by any stretch of the imagination. And yet you have to kind of love it simply for managing to exist at all in the face of almost impossible odds, and admire the determination of Ed Wood in making a movie that anyone except him would have realized was irredeemably dreadful in every department. And of course there's dear old Bela, turning it up to 11 as if he knew this would be, not quite his last chance, but very nearly. It may only be Ed Wood's third-best film, but it's still a Dadaist anti-classic.
By the way, Officer Kelton, a minor character played by Paul Marco, also appears in "Plan 9 From Outer Space", where he hints that he has previous experience of incredibly strange police-work, so this movie might be a Plan 9 prequel.