The Electronic Monster (1958)

The_Electronic_Monster_(1958)‘Monster Machine Vs. Helpless Beauty!’

An insurance investigator goes to the south of France to look into the death of a famous movie star. He finds that the actor had recently checked into a mysterious psychiatric clinic, and that the institute is also linked to other deaths. He becomes suspicious of both the methods of the leading doctor, and the clinic’s shady owner.

Limp, and rather dull, science fiction picture from the United Kingdom. Canadian Rod Cameron (‘The Jungle’ (1959)) leads an international cast, mostly from the U.K., Germany and Austria. French accents are in short supply and the local car of choice appears to be the Volkswagen Beetle, leading to the slight suspicion that perhaps they didn’t actually make it to the Gallic countryside at all.

Plot wise we have this strange institute owned by Paul Zakon (Peter llling) where Doctor Maxwell (Meredith Edwards) seem to treat all his patients and all their nervous disorders in exactly the same way. By inducing visions of ballet filmed at the private theatre also owned by Zakon, of course! Obvious when you think about it. This rather unusual arrangement does offer us a convenient heroine in the shape of ‘film star’ Mary Murphy who is appearing at the theatre, is engaged to Zakon and, even more conveniently, has a tonne of unfinished business with Cameron.

The_Electronic_Monster_(1958)

‘Give me back my silly hat at once!’

Director Montgomery Tully also offered up the equally uninspired ‘Battle Beneath The Earth’ (1967), and the hilarious, no budget alien invasion travesty ‘The Terrornauts’ (1967) which featured ‘Carry On’ star Charles Hawtrey, and a tea lady. Here, he imbues proceedings with all the urgency of a forgotten TV episode, and events proceed, and conclude, in exactly the way an 8-year old would predict after watching the first five minutes.

A late effort to convince us all it’a a plan to take over the world with mind control is about as convincing as the entire setup. On the credit side, it’s not exactly painful to watch, and some of the weird, electronic noises on the soundtrack are quite nice.

The film has had a multitude of different, and misleading, titles over the years, including ’Escapement’ (USA), ‘The Dream Machine’ (UK Reissue), ‘1,000 Volts To His Death’ (Austria) and ‘The Terror Has No Boundaries’ (ltaly). But my favourite has to be the American pre-release title: ‘Zex, the Electronic Fiend.’ Now, if only they’d made a movie worthy of that title!

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