THE FROZEN GHOST (1945) Reviews and overview

 

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The Frozen Ghost is a 1945 mystery film starring Lon Chaney Jr and Evelyn Ankers. Directed by Harold Young, it is the fourth film in the Inner Sanctum series that was spun of the popular radio show of the era. It was a Universal production.

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Chaney plays Alex Gregor, a stage psychic whose career is shattered when a drunken sceptic that he has invited onto the stage days while in a trance. While the authorities put it down to natural causes, Gregor is convinced that his powers killed the man and immediately quits as a stage performer and retires from public view.

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His manager, George Keene, arranges for Gregor to work for Mme Valerie Monet (Tala Birell), who runs a wax museum, where the other employees include mentally unstable former plastic surgeon Rudi Poldan (Martin Kosleck) and Valerie’s niece Nina Coudreau (Elena Verdugo).

Gregor is soon caught up in a mess of frustrated desires – Valerie is jealous of the attention he pays to her niece, Rudy is also jealous of Gregor’s appeal to Valerie and Nina, and Gregor’s stage assistant and fiancee, Maura Daniel (Evelyn Ankers) reappears in his life.

Things come to a head when Valerie is apparently killed, one again by Gregor’s psychic powers. But has she really been killed, or is there a sinister plot afoot? Fans of such murder mysteries will need no clues in order to make their minds up.

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Notably lacking in ghosts, frozen or otherwise, this is nevertheless an entertainingly lurid affair, with Chaney playing the hapless – not to say gormless – victim character that he excelled at. It’s also good to see him reunited with The Wolf Man star and scream queen Evelyn Ankers too.

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Like all but one of the Inner Sanctum films, The Frozen Ghost is introduced by a distorted head seen within a crystal ball, who tells us that the Inner Sanctum is “a strange, fantastic world controlled by a mass of living, pulsating flesh”. This introduction and standard credit sequence make the Inner Sanctum films closer to a TV series than a regular movie (and sure enough, that’s what it later became).

David Flint, MOVIES and MANIA

Other reviews:

“Creepy in parts, but ineffectively directed, with some poor supporting roles.” TV Guide

“Overall, The Frozen Ghost is pretty atmospheric but it gets far too predictable as it goes along.  Although the wax museum sets are appropriately cool, what happens there isn’t really all that interesting […} if you’re a Chaney fan (like me), his performance alone is enough of a recommendation.” The Video Vacuum

Blu-ray release:

Eureka Entertainment released all six Inner Sanctum Mysteries on Blu-ray in the UK for the first time ever on January 18th 2021. Includes: Calling Dr Death (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1943), Weird Woman (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944), Dead Man’s Eyes (dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944), The Frozen Ghost (dir. Harold Young, 1945), Strange Confession (dir. John Hoffman, 1945) and Pillow of Death (dir. Wallace Fox, 1945).

2-Disc Blu-ray edition contains:

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations of all six films.
Uncompressed LPCM monaural audio tracks
Optional English SDH subtitles
Calling Dr Death: Audio commentary from screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner and Regina Le Borg (daughter of director Reginald Le Borg)
Weird Woman: Audio commentary from author Justin Humphreys (The Doctor Phibes Companion) and Del Howison (Dark Delicacies: Original Tales of Terror and the Macabre)
Strange Confession: Audio commentary from screenwriter Peter Atkins (Hellraiser II, III, and IV) and screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner
Kim Newman on The Inner Sanctum Mysteries New interview with film critic and fiction writer Kim Newman
This is the Inner Sanctum: Making a Universal Mystery Series [55 mins]
The Creaking Door: Entering The Inner Sanctum [15 mins] History of the Radio Series with author/radio historian Martin Grams Jr.
Mind Over Matter [20 mins] Archival interview with actor Martin Kosleck (The Frozen Ghost)
Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Radio Episodes A selection of episodes from the original radio series
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the series by Craig Ian Mann

In the USA, Ushe Owned released the Inner Sanctum Mysteries on Blu-ray on November 17, 2020.

Main cast and characters:

Lon Chaney Jr. … Alex Gregor / Gregor the Great (as Lon Chaney)
Evelyn Ankers … Maura Daniel
Milburn Stone … George Keene
Douglass Dumbrille … Inspector Brant
Martin Kosleck … Rudi Polden
Elena Verdugo … Nina Coudreau
Tala Birell … Mme. Valerie Monet
Arthur Hohl … Sceptic

YouTube review(s):

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