TITLE: The Frozen Dead
YEAR RELEASED: 1966
DIRECTOR: Herbert J. Leder
CAST: Dana Andrews, Anna Palk, Philip Gilbert, Kathleen Breck, Karel Stepanek
Mad scientist tries to bring Nazis back from the dead in 60’s England. RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES investigates.
Dana Andrews is Nazi scientist Dr. Norberg, now residing in England 20 years after the end of World War II. However, unable to accept the final result in that conflict, he’s plotting to revive hordes of Nazi troops held in frozen storage. Well, I say hordes, but for obvious budgetary reasons, only a handful are actually residing at the mad doctor’s abode. Amongst them is a very young Edward Fox, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that this particular outing doesn’t appear too high up on his CV…
Still, a struggling actor’s got to eat, and young Edward makes a fair stab of playing the doctor’s revived brother. Like those of his erstwhile Nazi colleagues, his reanimation hasn’t gone too well, and between them these failed resurrections are limited to badly miming their past lives. Words would not do this scene justice.
Things get complicated when the doc’s niece Jean (also Fox’s daughter, played by Anna Palk) arrives home early from university, accompanied by her friend Elsa (Kathleen Breck). The doc’s assistant Lubeck (Karel Stepanek) thinks he’s being helpful to the cause by bumping off Elsa, in order that the doc can experiment with cutting her head off and keeping it alive with the aid of electrical currents.
(I do hope you’re keeping up with all of this. I’m struggling, and I’ve watched the darn thing…)
Unexpectedly, Elsa’s revived head is able to send telepathic messages to Jean, asking for help! It also warns her of danger from the doc’s bosses, who have turned up to monitor progress, and suspect Jean knows too much of their dastardly plan.
What else? Oh yes, there’s American Dr. Ted Roberts (Philip Gilbert) who has been lured under false pretences to help Norberg. There’s also a woman in the next village who pretends to be Elsa departing on a train for appearance’s sake, wears a fake face mask to cover a disfigurement, and has apparently been supplying body parts for the ongoing experiments. As to further detail on this lady, I’m as clueless as you are as it feels like there’s a sub plot which ended up on the cutting room floor…
Ah, before I forget, there’s a wall of mounted, amputated arms, operated and manipulated by an electronic control panel. Yes, I think that’s everything.
Seriously, you couldn’t make this up, except writer/director Herbert J. Leder obviously did. Under what circumstances is anyone’s guess. Still, whilst this is strictly bottom of the bill fodder, the sheer daftness of the increasingly convoluted and confused plot is good for laughs, as a valiant cast try to keep straight faces. And yet, after all the unintentional hilarity which has preceded it, an especially glum note at the end seems somehow all the more shocking. As a faltering step in the development of the British zombie movie, The Frozen Dead is at least a fascinating curate’s egg.
TRIVIA NOTE: Actor Philip Gilbert would become best known as the voice of super-computer TIM in the children’s sci-fi series The Tomorrow People (1973-79).