Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Der Fall X701/Frozen Alive (1964)

It’s often difficult to judge other places because you’re often doing so by comparing it to where you live.  If you live in the south, you may see northern states as being cold in the winter.  Living in Florida, I might be envious of states that don’t get hurricanes as often, but other states have natural disasters of their own.  I don’t know that I could give up life in a major city.  The pace of a rural area wouldn’t appeal to me.

Likewise, when I judge movies of the past, I’m doing so against movies that have been released within my lifetime.   I’ve grown accustomed to a certain duration and pacing.  If I see a movie billed as a drama, I expect it to last a little over two hours.  When I saw the description of Frozen Alive, I expected one thing.  When I watched it, I got something completely different.

The back of the box described a movie where a scientist freezes his own body and ends up the prime suspect in the murder of his wife.  I expected the wife to die early in the movie and the scientist to have to spend a lot of the movie’s 64 minutes explaining how he was conveniently frozen at the time.  Instead, the movie is mostly setup.

Dr. Frank Overton is the scientist and he’s been working in cryogenics.  He and his partner, Dr. Helen Wieland, have had great success with chimpanzees.  They even win an award for $25,000 each.  Those that oversee their research aren’t that crazy about trying it on humans, but that is why they are doing this.  The hope is that one day, it can be used for surgical purposes.  If not now, then when will they test it?

Eventually, Dr. Overton decides to try it on himself.  He doesn’t wait for approval.  He doesn’t even tell his wife.  He just goes into the lab and has himself put into suspended animation.  That’s when his wife dies.  Unfortunately, things don’t look good for him.  The police go to the lab and are told about the experiment.  They may not like it, but they’ll have to wait for the good doctor to be revived.  By the time that Dr. Overton is conscious, his name has already been cleared.  (Most of the descriptions I’ve read for this movie, including the one on the back of the box, either state or imply that the doctor will have to defend himself.  This isn’t the case at all.)

The movie was somewhat difficult to follow, mostly because the audio was hard to hear at times.  I could follow the basic story, which is that Dr. Overton is usually working (with a beautiful woman, no less) and Mrs. Overton is usually cheating on him.  It’s not a happy marriage, which makes Dr. Overton a good suspect.

I’m used to the suspect having to defend himself and that defense usually makes up the bulk of the movie.  Here, the bulk of the movie is spent on the unhappy marriage and the work of trying to freeze people.  The actual suspicion part is maybe the last 15-20 minutes of the 64-minute running time.

Here’s the thing, though: The movie was released in 1964.  I find it hard to believe that such a basic movie of such poor quality was made so recently.  I get that crappy movies are made all the time, but this looks like something closer to the movies of a decade or two prior.   With this movie, it’s difficult to tell how much of it was the fault of the original production and how much of it is transfer quality.  Some of the movies I’ve been watching tend to have mostly third- or fourth-generation copies available.  A good transfer may not have been an option.

This is a movie that I’d recommend missing if you’re given the option.  This isn’t even the kind of movie I’d sit through to make fun of.  It’s just bad.  Apparently, there’s an 81-minut cut of the movie.  I don’t think the extra time would help.  It would just be another 17 minutes of waiting for the movie to end.

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