‘Human or inhuman? No woman is safe…!’
The Man Who Turned to Stone is a 1957 American science fiction horror film directed by Leslie [László] Kardos from a screenplay written by Bernard Gordon [as Raymond T. Marcus] (Earth vs. the Flying Saucers; The Day of the Triffids).
The movie stars Victor Jory (Kolchak: The Night Stalker; Circle of Fear; Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell), William Hudson (The She-Creature; The Amazing Colossal Man) and Charlotte Austin (Gorilla at Large; The Bride and the Beast; Frankenstein 1970).
Two hundred years previously, a group of doctors learned to extend their lives by draining the vitality of others. Without such a transfusion, they begin to petrify. They become the staff doctors of a girls’ reform school, assuring a supply of vital young bodies.
However, outsiders sent to the school, Doctor Jess Rogers and social welfare officer Carol Adams, become suspicious of the unusual number of otherwise healthy inmates dying of heart failure or suicide…
Plot-wise, this is an enjoyably claustrophobic, cynical and ambitious sci-fi shocker that’s been unduly overlooked amidst the plethora of late ’50s oversized monsters, alien invaders and teen terrors. Unfortunately, non-genre director László Kardos’ delivery lacks real style, so few of the nuances of Bernard Gordon’s intriguing story are amplified on screen.
Despite it being an early women-in-prison entry, the film’s uninspiring title lacks immediacy, perhaps explaining its obscure status, which is a shame as it’s better than many of its better-known counterparts. It might not be Invasion of the Body Snatchers but it deserves a look, especially by devotees of more intelligent Fifties anti-Authoritarian Americana.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES and MANIA
“An odd mash-up of old school mad-science, a juvenile delinquency melodrama, and a women in prison flick, The Man Who Turned to Stone comes courtesy of Bernard Gordon, who, after being blacklisted, eked out a living writing this kind of sci-fi whiz-bangery for producer Sam Katzman … And just like all those other Katzman flicks of the 1950s, this movie is a rollicking — if a slightly hair-brained — good time.” Micro-Brewed Reviews
“The brisk running time allows for little personal dimension among the captives and suggests no ambitions greater than survival for the death-defiant predators. Victor Jory displays a fine collection of historic art, too grand for a provincial reformatory — a hint of problems greater than administrative corruption. Paul Cavanagh’s confession to William Hudson accounts for a more memorable sequence…” Forgotten Horrors Vol. 6: Up from the Depths
“A silly, charmless film, it lacks even the intelligence to let Jory ham up his part.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction
“Disastrously dull Sam Katzman non-chiller … Victor Jory as the doctor is appropriately stone-faced.” John Stanley, Creature Features
Carol Adams, Social Welfare: “Oh look, Tracy, you’re not going soft and spooky on me are you?”
Doctor Jess Rogers: “Alright, then let’s talk about art. About Rembrandt.”
Cast and characters:
Victor Jory … Doctor Murdock
William Hudson … Doctor Jess Rogers
Charlotte Austin … Carol Adams
Jean Willes … Tracy
Ann Doran … Mrs Ford
Paul Cavanagh … Cooper
George Lynn … Doctor Freneau
Victor Varconi … Doctor Myer
Friedrich von Ledebur … Eric
Tina Carver … Big Marge Collins
Barbara Wilson … Anna Sherman
Don C. Harvey … Mr Griffin, Coroner
Jean Harvey … Matron
1 hour 11 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Audio: Mono (RCA Sound Recording)