BayView Entertainment // 1956 // 72 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 19th, 2013
He's a real lady killer.
Charles "Butcher" Benton (Lon Chaney Jr, The Wolf Man) has been issued a death sentence following an armored car hold up. When Benton is double-crossed by his attorney, Paul Rowe (Ross Elliot, The Towering Inferno), and two of his former gang -- "Squeamy" Ellis (Marvin Ellis) and Joe Marcelli (Ken Terrell, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) -- the doomed man swears revenge...somehow. That somehow comes from beyond the grave. Benton is put to death and later resurrected when his body is donated to science, making him invincible, with titanium-like skin and superhuman strength. Can the wildly dangerous Benton be stopped, or will the world cower at the psychotic power of the Indestructible Man?!
This is a bottom-of-the-barrel Z-grade clunker that features horror icon Chaney acting nothing like the horror star fans had come to know and love years before. Indestructible Man is cheap looking, ridiculously plotted, and extraordinarily dull. This may be due in part to its start-and-stop production status, taking well over a year to complete. Whatever issues befell the movie, nothing can excuse its low tier caliber.
Legend has it Chaney was so deep in the bag with alcoholism that his character was rendered mute (damaged vocal chords, so the plot tells us) for most of the movie. Although he has a few lines early on, the rest of the film features the actor lumbering through a story that is a loose remake of the far better Man Made Monster mixed with equal parts Frankenstein. Truth be told, the filmmakers could have gotten anyone to play the role of Charles "Butcher" Benton since he does little but walk, kill, and die. While it's kinda-sorta fun seeing Chaney play a steel-skinned super villain, he is a long way off from his Universal Monsters glory days. Max Showalter, whose career included everything from Marilyn Monroe's Niagara to the John Hughes classic Sixteen Candles, plays the detective pursuing Benton in a typical 1950s gumshoe style, complete with voice over narration. Yes, there are other actors to be found here, but not one makes enough of an impression to mention.
It doesn't help that the effects work in Indestructible Man is also shoddy. To show how strong Benton is, he stabs his hand with a pair of scissors in what is clearly a reverse shot, and not a very good one at that. It's clear director Jack Pollexfen (The Man from Planet X) doesn't know what to do with the material. A movie like this needs to be playful and fun, but the whole thing comes off as a cautionary tale on how crime doesn't pay. The screenplay by Vy Russell (Monstrosity, also directed by Pollexfen) creaks from one scene to the next, often coming to a dead stop so characters can explain to the audience just what's going on. If I wanted to see two people stand around and chat, I'd have rented Conversation Man.
Presented in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen, the "High Definition Film Transfer" proclaimed on the cover is mediocre at best; although fans will be thrilled to see Indestructible Man in its original aspect ratio, the fact is the print is marred by years of neglect, including tears, film grain, pops, crackles, and other imperfections that make for rather lackluster viewing. The Dolby 1.0 Mono audio perfectly complements its lackluster visuals. Although most of the dialogue, music, and effects are in good shape, there are many moments where the volume dips or cuts off completely. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are available, if you needed them.
Bonus features include a short featurette on Lon Chaney Jr, some trailers for other Chaney movies, a bonus TV episode of The Whistler guest starring Chaney, and an audio interview with the star ("Lon Chaney Live!").
Indestructible Man was one of the first movies to appear on Mystery Science Theater 3000, and for good reason: it's only worth watching when people are making snide comments on top of it. If you feel the need to catch this 1950s shlock, search out the copy narrated by Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow. Otherwise, you're in for a very long 72 minutes.
Review content copyright © 2013 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: BayView Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 72 Minutes
Release Year: 1956
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* TV Episode
* Audio Interview