Doctor Zorka (Bela Lugosi) has experimented in suspended animation,
with a line of inventions so dangerous even his wife (Dora Clement), his
best friend Dr Mallory (Edwin Stanley) & the gouvernment want to
intervene. But then, Doc Zorka dies, which should put an end to everything
... but did Zorka really die or did he just, with the help of his crooked
assistant Monk (Jack C.Smith) fake his own death ? (The latter, in case
But Zorka's experiments did not only include suspended animation but
also a (stupid looking) giant robot, a devisualizer (a belt that makes its
wearer invisible - just imagine Bela saying devisualizer
repeatedly), poisonous gasses & a line of explosives - enough to put
an enemy spy ring (led by Edward Van Sloan) onto the map to try to steal
Zorka's secrets as well as federal agents West (Robert Kent) & Daley
(Regis Toomey), who try & steal them for the American go-... try to
guard American interests I meant to say. & of course there's also a
girl reporter, Jean (Dorothy Arnold), who does rather little though.
Eventually it is revealed that the secret of Zorka's inventions lies in
some material of a meteor he has gathered from deepest Africa, & which
is now keptin a box that changes possession like on a merry-go-round &
leads to chases on land, water & air (often two of these elements
combined), with Monk repeatedly trying to betray his boss, but to no
Eventually, the federal agents can arrest the spy ring & Doc
Mallory invents something for them that enders the devisualizer useless,
so they have a fair chance to get after Zorka too (especially after they
have blown up his robot). But Zorka has in the meantime gotten hold of the
meteor material again, & he & Monk hijack a plane & fly across
the country, bombing everything in sight (for which, among others,
snippets of the Hindenburgh-desaster are used), until Zorka finds himself
surrounded by what have to be the entire America Air Forces of its day.
Now he wants to use the meteor to blow himself up, & all his pursuers
with him, but Monk - the pilot of his plane - refuses, so Zorka just kills
him ... bad idea, since Monk was the pilot, & without him, the
plane goes into nosedive & finally crashes onto the ground ... which
marks the end of Zorka, & the world is saved.
Bela Lugosi as a Mad Scientist ! A Stupid Looking Robot !! An Enemy Spy
Ring !!! Suspended Animation !!!! A Devisualizer !!!!!
For every pulp fan, these elements just have to be mouth-whetting -
however, this serial is rather a disappointment, as it shows little love
for its key plot elements & just includes them in a straightforward
action plot, without an interesting storyline (it's just characters
chasing after characters, & one of them happens to be - temporarily -
invisible). Also, besides Bela Lugosi of course, the serial fails to have
any colourful characters or charismatic actors - actually, until the very
end, I couldn#t figure out which federal agend is West & which Daley,
the spy ring memberd don't even have names, & Dorothy Arnold as the
girl reporter - a role that just calls out for a lively, sharp tongued
performance - is a major disappointment.
Given the decent budgets the Universal-serials tended to have, it's
amazing to see how much more smaller studios like Mascot
could make of a fraction of that money.