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THE PHANTOM CREEPS ($25) is an old time film serial made fun by the presence of horror movie icon Bela Lugosi. In THE PHANTOM CREEPS Lugosi portrays Dr. Alex Zorka, the standard mad scientist, whose experiments involve a limitless power source, robots and invisibility. Zorka works from secret laboratory with the aid of his ex-con henchman Monk (Jack C. Smith), who is sometimes more of a hindrance than help to the evil scientist. As THE PHANTOM CREEPS unfolds, U.S. government officials and foreign spies want to get their hands on Zorkaís inventions, as well as the good doctor himself. By todayís standards THE PHANTOM CREEPS is very campy, with its overwrought dialogue and situations that are laughable. However, because Lugosi is the star of this particular production, one canít help but enjoy the goofiness of the program. Originally, THE PHANTOM CREEPS was shown serial fashion, with one cliffhanger chapter appearing every week at the local bijou. The DVD version of runs 265 minutes and presents all 12 chapters THE PHANTOM CREEPS in their entirety.

THE PHANTOM CREEPS comes to DVD from Whirlwind Media, who has given the program a passable presentation. I would assume that THE PHANTOM CREEPS is in the public domain title and that 35mm materials for the 1939 serial no longer exist. THE PHANTOM CREEPS is transferred from a somewhat beaten up 16mm film element that is several generations off the original negative. The full screen presentation is watchable, but it isnít something that shows off the DVD format. Throughout, the black and white image is somewhat blurry and the contrast is weak, with whites tending to appear blown out. Blemishes and scratches are abundant, plus there are other forms of print damage on the elements. There are no problems with digital compression artifacts on this dual layered DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is workable, but nothing more. There are audio dropouts and the sound is compressed, plus there is some warble and other distortions. Dialogue is usually understandable, but the condition of the soundtrack, certainly doesnít help Lugosiís thick Hungarian accent. There are no subtitles or alternate languages on the DVD. The basic interactive menus allow one a choice of watching the entire program, or the 12 individual chapters of the serial.

THE PHANTOM CREEPS is something that will appeal to Lugosi fans or fans of old time serials. The picture and the sound quality are pretty rough, but this may be all that exists on this particular title.


The Phantom Creeps



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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