blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Phantom Creeps (1939, Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind), Chapter 6: The Iron Monster

Phantom Creeps hits the halfway point with some intrigue involving one of the cast possibly being a double agent (fingers crossed as it’d give the plot something engaging) and Bela Lugosi getting a new weapon, a kind of ray gun.

The ray gun doesn’t get much usage after the demonstration because Lugosi sics his robot (the Iron Monster of chapter title) on good guy Robert Kent. It’s the cliffhanger, but there’s at least the momentary hope the robot will do away with Kent.

Until the second half of the chapter–when the double agent subplot gets hinted–Iron is rough-going. The cliffhanger resolution from last chapter is real long, playing lots of the previous chapter in the setup. Then it’s just people driving around and seeing other people driving around to follow and move the story (story might be a stretch) forward.

Also, sadly, it’s not like finally having the robot attack means the scene is well-executed. Beebe and Goodkind’s direction doesn’t magically improve. Though the script finally acknowledges, halfway into the serial, it’s idiotic to have presumed dead Lugosi’s secret hideout in the house where the Feds are stationed.

Maybe things will improve going forward into the second half.

Probably not.


Directed by Ford Beebe and Saul A. Goodkind; screenplay by George H. Plympton, Basil Dickey, and Mildred Barish, based on a story by Wyllis Cooper; directors of photography, Jerome Ash and William A. Sickner; edited by Irving Birnbaum, Joseph Gluck, and Alvin Todd; music by Charles Previn; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Bela Lugosi (Dr. Alex Zorka), Robert Kent (Capt. Bob West), Dorothy Arnold (Jean Drew), Jack C. Smith (Monk), Regis Toomey (Jim Daly), Edwin Stanley (Dr. Fred Mallory), Anthony Averill (Rankin), Dora Clement (Ann Zorka), Hugh Huntley (Perkins), and Edward Van Sloan (Jarvis).


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