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The Man with Nine Lives

USA 1940
produced by
Irving Briskin, Wallace MacDonald for Columbia
directed by Nick Grinde
starring Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor, Jo Ann Sayers, Stanley Brown, John Dilson, Hal Taliaferro, Byron Foulger, Charles Trowbridge, Ernie Adams, Bruce Bennett (= Herman Brix), Minta Durfee, Ivan Miller
story by Harold Shumate, screenplay by Karl Brown, musical direction by Morris Stoloff

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Upon making an experiment of cryogenic treatment of patients public too soon, Dr Mason (Roger Pryor) and his girlfriend/nurse Judith (Jo Ann Sayers) are given a leave of absence by their employers - something they use to track down a long gone missing pioneer in cryogenic treatments, Dr Kravaal (Boris Karloff) ... and they find him in the hidden basement of his own haunted house on his own private island - frozen solid in ice. Against all odds, they manage to revive him with relative ease after having been frozen for ten years. He relates their story to them, how he was almost jailed after an experiment that everyone perceived failed (it wasn't), and how he gassed and frozen all those who tried to jail him but also himself back in the day. Thing is, the gas that was supposed to be deadly has kept him alive, and when he, Mason and Judith check, the others (Stanley Brown, John Dilson, Hal Taliaferro, Byron Foulger) can be found in the freezer and brought back to life as well. So that means, by mere accident, Kravaal has made the greatest discovery of them all, a cure for cancer - but those who wanted to arrest him ten years ago now show their true colours and they want to get their hands on his formula (which Kravaal wanted to give the world as such for free), and somehow the sheet it's written on gets destroyed ... and Kravaal can't remember it just like that. So he needs guinea pigs, human guinea pigs to try it out - and who better than those who opposed him all these years ago? Dr Mason and Judith support him at first, and only eventually they learn that the life of one human means little to Kravaal, as he thinks in larger quantities - and once he has killed all his test subjects, he continues with Judith ... which is when the authorities arrive and shoot him - and in dying, he tells Mason that his experiments have finally succeeded and how to revive Judith, and he hands Mason his documents to share with the whole wide world to finally defeat cancer for good ...


The Man with Nine Lives is an interesting film first and foremost on a story level, as it is a classic mad scientist story on one hand, but on the other the motives of the resident "mad scientist" are entirely noble (not only does he want to cure cancer, he doesn't even want to profit from it), and he is even somehow redeemed in the end (though that ending is a bit too sugary sweet in my opinion at least). Plus a dependably good performance grants an at least fleshed-out portrayal of the mad scientist in question. Add to that a directorial effort that goes for atmosphere, and you get ... well, less than perfect results, unfortunately, because the whole thing is just not paced too terribly well, and there are plenty of plotholes that need stuffing.

Still, nice one.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD