RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES looks at a lesser known Brit-horror, The Projected Man.
TITLE: The Projected Man
RELEASED: March 1966
STARRING: Bryant Haliday (Dr. Paul Steiner), Mary Peach (Dr. Patricia Hill), Ronald Allen (Dr. Chris Mitchel), Norman Wooland (Dr. L.G. Blanchard)
WRITERS: John C. Cooper and Peter Bryan (from a story by Frank Quattrocchi)
DIRECTOR: Ian Curteis (and John Croydon, uncredited)
Dr. Paul Steiner is experimenting with moving matter from one location to another using laser beams. All seems fine with inanimate objects, but living creatures (although seeming fine on re-entry) die violently when touched.
Colleague Dr. Mary Hill seems to have solved the problem, but an act of sabotage ruins the big unveiling. Finding out who is responsible, Steiner attempts to fix the machine and (aided by his secretary, of all people) decides to use himself as a guinea pig, but something goes hideously wrong: half of his body is deformed, and he destroys anything he touches, disintegrating it on contact.
The mishap has also had a detrimental effect on the doc’s mental state. Developing megalomaniacal tendencies, he becomes obsessed with gaining power through his new found abilities. He sets off to find a massive source of electricity to extend his powers still further…
It tantalisingly looks as though we’re headed for a big finale at a power station, with Steiner looking to give himself the ultimate power surge. Then we remember that the budget won’t cover such extravagance, so what we get instead is the heroine talking the scientist out of it, whilst surrounded by several vehicles from the London Electricity Board, which look like they’ve been left in the car park at Merton Park Studios for effect.
Still, the low-rent finale that arrives is fun. The Projected Man isn’t a great movie by any stretch, but there’s some interesting ideas knocking about, echoing the mad-scientist cycle of the 30’s/40’s with a dash of The Invisible Man (1933) thrown in for good measure. It probably lifts too much for its own good from The Fly (1958), so unkind comparisons with that film are inevitable.
However, considering its small resources and what appears to have been a troubled production, The Projected Man is entertaining enough, and at 77 minutes it wisely doesn’t outstay its welcome. If science gone wrong, (fake) animals being frazzled and supporting starlets being menaced is your thing, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here.
TRIVIA POINTS: John C. Cooper was a pseudonym for producer John Croydon, who took over the last few days of directing after firing Ian Curteis.
This was one of the last collaborations between executive producers Michael Klinger and Tony Tenser. Klinger became an independent producer, while Tenser founded Tigon the following year, producing the Brit-horror classics Witchfinder General (1968) and Blood On Satan’s Claw (1971).