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The Frozen Ghost (1944) May 2nd, 2020

The Frozen Ghost is another in the Inner Sanctum Mysteries series starring Lon Chaney Jr. This was not an easy film for me to follow. It’s a shame that The Frozen Ghost possesses that toxic mix of static melodramatic dialogues and forgetful acting that cause the mind to drift to more interesting thoughts because its premise is so promising.

Lon Chaney Jr. (learning the names of his characters in these Inner Sanctum Mysteries movies seems like a waste of time) is a retired mentalist who quit after accidentally killing a man on stage by intently starring at him for long enough. It’s an odd superpower because if you think about it, we can all do that. It has no bearing over how or when the subject of the death-stare actually dies but I’ll count it. Anyway, afraid of his new lethal gaze, Chaney Jr. leaves his assistant-cum-lover and takes a holiday with some conniving friends at a… get ready for this… wax museum? Because that’s where you really want to go to… get away from it all?

This is the biggest travesty of the film. The wax museum is wonderfully creepy, the curator is a criminal who may or may not be hiding his victims bodies in wax and in plain sight. Eventually Chaney Jr. accidentally kills again with his mind bullets and starts having a proper breakdown and they discover a plot by someone to do something to Chaney Jr. but I really couldn’t tell you what it was because the movie was too boring. Hugely disappointing. I wanted to see the people stuck in the wax. Some of them maybe not dead yet trying to break free. There’s a really great episode of Hannibal where they discover someone’s been sewing drugged strangers bodies together on the floor of a huge grain silo and then spraying their bodies with some kind of deck sealer or something that preserves their flesh as they either starve to death or overdose on the floor. If you want to watch a truly sublime horror show, Hannibal is it. The Frozen Ghost is not. What a missed opportunity.

I think the main point of the film was to justify a lame joke Chaney Jr. makes at the end about people who doubt mentalism when he says “Did you know? It’s all done with mirrors.” or something. Boring. Snooze fest. Thank goodness for 61 minute run times.

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