Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Flying Serpent is a kind of dull remake of The Devil Bat

By Doug Gibson

Listen, I'm a big George Zucco fan, I love the old Producers Releasing Corporation 40s C-movies but the 1946 The Flying Serpent is not one of the better offerings. Zucco plays a mad archaeologist who uses a live big flying creature to kill his enemies. The "flying serpent" is a stiff stage prop and if you look hard you can see the strings.

Naturally, Zucco gets it in the end from his dangerous bird. In theme the film is very similar to the far superior 1940 PRC release The Devil Bat, starring Lugosi. There's a big killer controlled by a bitter man of science. An investigative journalist helps solve the crime and protects a young lovely. Also, the music is the same as Devil Bat, and a lot of other C-films of that era, and the film uses "banner headlines" like Devil Bat and others to bridge plot. There's comic bits to relieve the "tension."

Also, as Tom Weaver has pointed out in his book, "Poverty Row Horrors," Zucco is a pretty one-dimensional villain. He's more cranky than complex. There's no angst associated with his murders, such as Lugosi's bitter revenge in "Devil Bat." He's not even the crazy scientist George Zucco in another PRC film, "The Mad Monster." He's just a mere sociopath in this film.

What worked well in Devil Bat it doesn't work here. The scenes with the crusading radio reporter (Ralph Lewis) are very dull and slow down the main action of Zucco getting revenge. By contrast, crusading newspaper reporter Dave O'Brien is outstanding combating Lugosi in Devil Bat. Flying Serpent is a tight, very low budget film that runs 59 minutes. It was directed by Sam Newfield and also starred Mary Forbes.

It's worth watching -- anything with Zucco is but it's not up to par with other PRC offerings such as Devil Bat and Strangler of the Swamp. Watch the film below; it has some decent moments.

Watch the film here.

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