Synthetic flesh, Groovy Ghoulies! That’s what it took to make a monster back in 1932. You need to look no farther than the Michael Curtiz directed “Doctor X”. Warner Brothers’ first foray into this expanding genre. It was based on a play (as so many were during this time) of the same name. It was an early Technicolor film, which really gave a comic book feel to the film.
There’s a cannibal loose and all evidence points to a doctor at Doctor Xavier’s medical academy. And no, there are no mutants there! The list of suspects is brought down to five, and the killer only strikes during the full moon. Along for the ride is Doctor X’s daughter Joan played by a brown-tresseled Fay Wray. We would see her again caught in the grip of ‘King Kong’. It was refreshing to see her here as I had only seen her in ‘King Kong’ before. Lee Tracy plays investigating reporter Lee Taylor. He brings much comedic elements to the movie, and I enjoyed watching him on the screen. The star of the film though, was Lionel Atwill as Doctor Xavier. He has 48 hours to find the killer at his academy and uses some cool experimentations to find out which of the doctors it is, or maybe it is the good doctor, himself! Atwill would carve out a nice spot in the horror genre, and it surprised me looking at his credits how many other great films he was in. I thought he brought great mystery to the screen, wondering if he was the cannibalistic doctor. I thought the other doctors were great, and like I said, it had a very cartoony feel to it. The five doctors really had a Dick Tracy Villain feel to them, as well.
Preston Foster plays Doctor Wells, and I thought he had a cool mad scientist feel to him. And I picked him out early as being the monster of the film. Speaking of the monster, the doctor that had this strange craving for flesh and donned a mask made of synthetic skin. The big reveal scene featured electric doohickeys (as every mad scientist scene should) and I wanted to mention that this scene scared the crap out of my two year old beagle mix, Cooper. The electrodes were buzzing and our villain was yelling. My dog laid at the edge of the bed, growling low at the TV. After the scene, he ran under the covers and it was the funniest thing ever. So, I think Doctor X gets two paws up for that alone!
Great set pieces again, and I enjoyed the early two color process. One other movie was made this way during this time, 1933’s “Mystery of The Wax Museum”. I guess there was some backlash at the color release, and that was why it took another set of years for more color movies to arrive. It’s hard to believe in this day and age, in fact I think it is reversed. Some people won’t watch a movie in black and white. As long as the story is good, I don’t think it should matter. What do all you other, Groovy Ghoulies think?
It’s a good flick, and I had two potential suspects watching it. I like when I can’t figure it out totally, and with the amount films I have seen, that can be tough sometimes.
That’s all for now, Groovy Ghoulies! I’m getting a hankering for a steak after all that! Until next time, watch the skies!