STUDIO: Columbia Tristar Home Video
MSRP: $14.94
RUNNING TIME: 73 Minutes

The Pitch

“We’ve got Boris Karloff and a mad scientist premise. A plot where something actually happens is totally unnecessary!”

The Humans

Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor, Jo Ann Sayers and John Dilson.

The Nutshell

Dr. Tim Morgan is a renowned scientist working on curing cancer by cryogenically freezing patients. So far he has achieved minimal success. Frustrated by his failures, he takes his wife and head nurse on a trip. He visits the home of Dr. Leon Kravaal, another famous scientist who vanished a decade ago. Kravaal was working on similar experiments before he vanished completely. Morgan hopes to find Kravaal’s notes and use them to further his own research.

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What the two discover is a lot more than a few notes. They find the frozen body of Kravaal inside a hidden freezer. Once his body is thawed out, Kravaal miraculously returns back to life. It seems that Kravaal unwittingly stumbled upon the secret to cryogenic freezing and became trapped in his own freezer for a decade. Kravaal becomes obsessed with rediscovering the exact formula and method for the freezing process. His passion leads him down a dark path that ultimately results in murder and madness.

The Package

The Man With Nine Lives is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer is crisp and absent of grain until the last ten minutes, after which the transfer becomes blurry and washed out until the very end of the movie. The only extras are trailers for Frankenfish, Vampires – The Turning and Devour, three films whose names you will surely be hearing again come awards season.

The Lowdown

Although designed to shock and thrill audiences, The Man With Nine Lives lacks the capacity to do either of those things in the modern day and age. The film clocks in at a brisk 73 minutes and wastes absolutely no time in getting the ball rolling. This leaves absolutely no time for Karloff to make a slow turn from well meaning scientist to completely insane one. The character of Kravaal goes mad right from the start, but strangely enough the film presents his motives as noble. It goes so far as to set him up as a hero after everything is said and done. Mad scientist films usually give some credit to the scientist’s lofty goals, but rarely do they praise the scientist as much as The Man With Nine Lives does.

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The supporting cast might as well be cardboard cutouts. Admittedly they aren’t given much to work with. This is a 1940s b-movie, which means the only thing women characters are allowed to do is clutch at their hair and scream in horror while the male cast spouts snappy exaggerated dialogue. Karloff is the only actor who makes an effort to distinguish himself. His features and mannerisms only serve to prove that the truly talented genre actors don’t need make-up to portray believable monsters on film.

The only thing The Man With Nine Lives has to offer a modern audience is unintentional humor in the form of its pseudoscience. There are no fancy freezing chambers in this film – people are cryogenically frozen by simply placing large blocks of ice on top of them. If there happens to be a 1940s cinema drinking game out there that plays upon all the clichés of the time then The Man With Nine Lives will undoubtedly get people drunk in a hurry. It’s a perfect look at the typical horror films of the time period, but that doesn’t make it entertaining in present day when audiences expect much more from their thrillers.

3 out of 10