Hot on the heels of his “31 Days of Hammer” in January, Jules is at it again in March, treating us to a chronological run through the classic era of British Horror, from the late ’50s to the end of the ’70s, with one review every day for the entire month.
You can check out the rest of our “31 Days of British Horror” by CLICKING HERE.
Starring: WBryant Haliday, Ronald Allen, Mary Peach, Norman Wooland, Tracey Crisp
Director: Ian Curteis
By 1966 British Horror was all about witchcraft, classic monsters and gothic settings, so The Projected Man must have felt like a retro affair even then.
Not only that, it’s got more of a ’50s American B-movie feel than anything British, though its whole “science created a monster” schtick is very Quatermass at its core too.
Despite this, The Projected Man is a rollicking blast of sci-fi horror that carefully builds its world and its characters before unleashing hell on it.
Dr. Paul Steiner (Bryant Haliday) and Dr. Christopher Mitchell (Ronald Allen) are working on a projection device that enables them to transmit any object over a limited distance. The arrival of Dr. Patricia Hill (Mary Peach) gives them a breakthrough in successfully projecting living creatures but Dr. Blanchard (Norman Wooland), Steiner’s boss and head of the institute he works for, is being blackmailed and allows the project to be sabotaged.
Steiner is desperate to prove his device works, so with the aid of his secretary Sheila (Tracey Crisp) attempts to project himself to Blanchard’s house, but her inexperience means that he arrives somewhere else, horribly mutated and with the power to electrocute with his bare hands.
His career and life in ruins, there’s only one thing left for Dr Steiner now…revenge.
It’s a good 35 minutes into The Projected Man before any actual horror action kicks in, but that’s actually a smart move as it allows the characters to breathe and establish their relationships and motivations. Steiner’ jealousy over Mitchell and Hill’s burgeoning attraction to each other not only compounds the tragedy that befalls him later, but fuels his desperation to make his project work, as it’s all he’s got.
As the doomed scientist himself, Bryant Haliday brings more of that wiry intensity that he used so well in Devil Doll the year previously. He’s more a tragic character than a villain this time, but there’s an underlining weasely quality to Haliday that makes Dr Steiner a slightly odd duck and just adds to his outsider feel.
Once he’s in full on mutant mode, there’s still a humanity there, as he’s capable of restraint and conversation. Sure, the trio of hapless criminals he first encounters are fried, but that’s an accident. After that, his rampage of revenge is one of the most measured ever committed to celluloid. His kidnapping of his secretary Sheila (handily while in just her underwear for added trash points) catches you off guard, as the instant death that’s heavily telegraphed becomes an interrogation over the back of a sofa and one of the best scenes in the film. Oh and in case there was any doubt, the shot of Steiner carrying an unconscious Shelia is straight out of the Universal playbook, the home of tragic and sympathetic monsters.
As lurid sci-fi horrors go, The Projected Man has a lot of heart in amongst its very effective (and literal) shocks. It might have felt like it was from another age, but these kind of stories are timeless, especially when they’re told this well. A classic.
The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy