THE FROZEN DEAD (1966) Reviews and overview

  

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‘Frozen alive for 20 years! Now they return from their icy graves to seek vengeance!’

The Frozen Dead is a 1966 British science fiction horror film written, produced and directed by Herbert J. Leder (It!; Doomsday Machine; Fiend Without a Face).

The movie stars Dana Andrews, Anna Palk and Philip Gilbert.

Hammer horror regulars Don Banks (The Evil of Frankenstein; The Reptile; The Mummy’s Shroud) composed the strident score, whilst Scott MacGregor (Taste the Blood of Dracula; The Vampire Lovers; Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell) provided the art direction.

Although shot in Eastmancolor, US distributors Warner-Seven Arts chose to release it in black and white to save money on duplicating prints!

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Plot:

For twenty years, unrepentant scientist Doctor Norberg (Dana Andrews) has been experimentally thawing frozen Third Reich soldiers who have been kept in suspended animation at his English country estate since the end of World War II. He is awaiting his superiors, General Lubeck (Karel Stepanek) and Captain Tirptiz (Basil Henson), who have been told by Norberg’s assistant Karl (Alan Tilvern) that Norberg’s experiments have been a complete success.

Unfortunately, they haven’t been. Norberg can thaw the body but not the brain. All he can produce are zombie-like beings who can do no more than endlessly repeat the memory of just one action from their past. The worst of them, Prisoner no. 3 (Edward Fox), is extremely violent. And is Norberg’s brother…

Reviews:

” …a real stinker, redeemed only by a creepy living severed head (trust me, decapitation does nothing for a girl’s complexion) and a bonkers scene in which two men are strangled by half-a-dozen dismembered arms attached to a wall. Other than that, The Frozen Dead is a ponderous mess, stolidly directed with a bovine lack of imagination by Herbert J. Leder.” 20/20 Movie Reviews

“We’re only treated to one rampaging Nazi zombie (as played by Edward Fox, no less), but even he’s a bit crap. However, it’s worth noting that the “Elsa’s head in a box” scenes are incredibly effective, and almost make it worth seeking out the film by themselves. Bathed in an eerie blue light and glaring balefully at her captors, she’s the real star of the show.” British Horror Films

“Seriously, folks: despite being an enjoyably bad B-movie, The Frozen Dead has a somewhat disturbing quality to it that won’t let you forget about it. But, of course, on the upside, we do get to see a wall of severed arms come to life and strangle Nazis. I mean, you can’t go wrong with that, right?” Cinema Sentries

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“Dana Andrews is actually quite good in this mess, giving his character of Dr Norberg some layers that went above and beyond the call of duty for a film of this caliber. Character actor Alan Tilvern plays a goofy Igor-like character who manages to spice things up by going bat-guano crazy. It’s too bad the rest of the movie didn’t give these two more to work with.” Cinelinx

The Frozen Dead is neither lurid nor thought-provoking enough to expect much entertainment value. At the very least, it’s never boring, although that such a middling horror flick was inspired by this promising of a gimmick has to be a cinematic crime of some sort. Genre buffs starved for product may want to give The Frozen Dead a whirl, but it’s a mostly forgettable feature…” Cineslice

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” …TFD is somewhat slow-paced and constructed of many prior tropes. As such, it won’t impress much of anyone familiar with the genre. Beyond Andrews and Tilvern, the acting is quite flat, except for a few rare, but well done little moments. TFD is an old-school rehash, but fairly watchable, if you’re patient.” Classic Sci-Movies

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is noteworthy for Virginia Leith’s talkative, taunting performance as that film’s body-less head. In The Frozen Dead, the honor goes to Kathleen Breck as the hapless Elsa. Her subtler, more tortured and mostly mimed performance is actually quite good, in unrealistic surroundings realistically expressing the horror of finding oneself disembodied and at the mercy of loopy scientists.” DVD Talk

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” …plays like a cross between Donovan’s Brain, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and They Saved Hitler’s Brain. Unfortunately, the movie is a little closer in quality to the latter two than to the former, and even at that, it lacks somewhat the chutzpah that makes those two fairly memorable. Dana Andrews does all he can to keep his dignity throughout, but he’s a long way here from Night of the Demon.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Despite a sluggish, talky middle, The Frozen Dead still holds up as enjoyable trash […] Leder’s script is prone to clumsy exposition and lunkheaded visual foreshadowing […] but the arms, the image of three SS officers hanging frozen, and especially Elsa’s blue-lit face with her mouth gasping “Bury me!” are things not easily forgotten, and on that level, The Frozen Dead scores.” Good Efficient Butchery

“The best things about this unscary movie are the art direction and the living head which features prominently in the production.” Alan Frank, The Horror Film Handbook

“The frozen bodies look neat and real enough for the film. The parts with the head are especially effective.  They are genuinely disturbing at times!  The final shot of the film with the head begging to be buried is quite sad.  In summary, good ideas, great concept… but kind of an odd focus on one aspect over another.” Mondo Bizarro

Choice dialogue:

“Bury me, bury me…”

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Cast and characters:

Dana Andrews … Dr Norberg – Night of the Demon
Anna Palk … Jean Norberg – Tower of Evil; The Nightcomers; The Earth Dies Screaming
Philip Gilbert … Dr Ted Roberts
Kathleen Breck … Elsa Tenney
Karel Stepanek … General Lubeck
Basil Henson … Dr Tirpitz
Alan Tilvern … Karl Essen
Anne Tirard … Mrs Schmidt
Edward Fox … Prisoner #3, Norberg’s Brother
Oliver MacGreevy … Joseph the Butler
Tom Chatto … Inspector Witt
John Moore … Bailey the Station Master
Charles Wade … Alfie the Porter

Filming locations:

Merton Park Studios, London, England (studio)

Technical details:

1 hour 35 minutes
Aspect ratio: 1.66: 1

Clip:

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