Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Flying Serpent: PRC wackiness with George Zucco

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 Bela 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 the plot. There's comic bits to relieve the "tension."

But while that plot worked 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. The ending is pretty cool, and lifts the film a bit. It was directed by Sam Newfield and also starred Mary Forbes.

It's worth watching -- anything with George Zucco is but it's not up to par with other PRC offerings such as Devil Bat and Strangler of the Swamp.

No comments: