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.