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DEAD MEN WALK (director: Sam Newfield; screenwriter: Fred Myton; cinematographer: Jack Greenhalgh; editor: Holbrook N. Todd; music: Leo Erdody; cast: George Zucco (Dr. Lloyd Clayton/Dr. Elwyn Clayton), Mary Carlisle (Gayle Clayton), Nedrick Young (Dr. David Bently), Dwight Frye (Zolarr), Fern Emmett (Kate), Robert Strange (Wilkins), Hal Price (Sheriff); Runtime: 64; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sigmund Neufeld; Sinister Cinema; 1943)
“Has a few bright spots, such as a campy Zucco rising from the dead to chant a black arts mantra.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sam Newfield (“The Mad Monster”/”The Black Raven”) shoots a poverty-row made really low-budget film. It’s a variation on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde theme that’s turned into a vampire film that you might roll your eyes at, but it has some crass entertainment value. It’s penned by Fred Myton.

The respected Dr. Lloyd Clayton (George Zucco), a practicing physician, burns all his evil twin brother Elwyn’s (also Zucco) occult books after his funeral. Elwyn’s loyal servant, the hunchback Zolarr (Dwight Frye, died shortly after the film’s release), accuses Lloyd of murdering his brother, but Lloyd tells him that Elwyn fell from a cliff while he was attacking him.

Lloyd’s ward, Gayle (Mary Carlisle), becomes engaged to marry the young physician Dr. David Bently (Nedrick Young), on the night that Zolarr exhumes Elwyn’s coffin and he emerges as a vampire ready to seek revenge on his brother. Elwyn displays his vampire powers, only achieved at night, as there’s the mysterious death of a healthy person. He then vows to make Gayle his disciple and puts her in a trance. When Clayton is visited by the ghostly figure of his evil brother, he can’t get David to believe him. David thinks Clayton has turned evil and is responsible for Gayle’s condition. As Gayle lies in a coma and grows weaker every day, the two squabble until a local woman, Kate (Fern Emmett), who is considered by the locals as daffy, suggests all the movie-lore remedies for handling a vampire, like having a crucifix worn by Mary as protection and finding during daylight the body of the vampire and burning it. David is convinced when Elwyn puts in an appearance at Mary’s bedside with him present, but the ignorant locals form a lynching party for Clayton. He escapes their clutches and locates his brother, and the two battle as the house they are in catches fire.

Though the all-too-familiar Dracula ripoff has a few bright spots, such as a campy Zucco rising from the dead to chant a black arts mantra, it’s mostly flat and offers few chills or thrills.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”