Monday, January 25, 2010

The Projected Man (1966) - MST3K Review

Dr. Patricia Hill arrives at a laboratory and meets Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Paul Steiner. Turns out these scientists are working on a transporting device, or projector, that zaps matter, stores it as light (?!?) and beams it somewhere else. Well, the mean old head of research, Dr. Blanchard wants Paul’s project shut down and even goes so far as to sabotage it. Paul, determined to prove his success, uses the projector on himself – and promptly turns into a monster. Now, Dr. Hill and Dr. Mitchell must find Paul before he goes around killing everyone who opposes him. Oh and secretary Sheila gets to strip down to her underwear because her eyes hurt.

Movie Review:
The Projected Man itself isn’t horribly executed, but very dull. The plot makes sense most of the time. But we are never clear why the head of research wants Paul to fail. Some kind of blackmail is implied but never fully revealed. The acting is pretty solid. There are attempts at tension and even a tepid romance, but mostly the movie just sits there.

Dr. Hill may be the main character, but she is relegated to the concerned female role and love interested for the incredibly bland Dr. Mitchell. This leaves us with the only slightly more interesting Paul. Still, Bryant Haliday doesn’t do much with the character to make him a credible threat. He’s better as the orange haired scientist. The supporting cast does what they need to do. Dr. Blanchard is annoying in a very proper British way, and Sheila looks good in her underwear.

As for the horror, not too much of that either. Monster Paul ends up looking kinda lumpy with crusty hands, and a permanent sneer. He’s not scary and when he puts the cloth over his disfigured half of his face (Mike and bots call it his face diaper) he just looks silly. The projection machine looks like the spawn of a bubble blower and a hair drier. It also makes one of the most annoying sounds I’ve heard in a MST3K film… and that’s saying a lot.

All in all, not really much to work with riffing wise, and pretty dull as a stand alone.

The MST3K episode:
Not the best way to start out a season, especially after the glorious triple threat of Space Mutiny, Time Chasers and Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. But this was the season 9 premier (and second season on Sci-fi).

Of all the elements to have in a MST3K film, dullness can be the hardest to overcome. Energy and wit are needed. Mike and the bots are filled with energy and attack the movie as best they can. They have some fun with Haliday, who also appeared in the horrible Devil Doll. And since the movie is English they get in some very good zingers about the Brits as well as Monty Python and Pink Floyd. But the movie doesn’t give them enough to work with.

To compare, take Red Zone Cuba a very dull film, but also badly acted, edited, and executed. So the dullness is just one factor to the bad film. In a way The Projected Man reminds me of the slog episodes early in season 8 where the Universal movies made their appearance, but even those had some wacky sets or costumes. The most interesting things about The Projected Man are the diaper on Paul’s face and Sheila in her underwear.

The host segments are fun, but fairly light. Even the discovery of Castle Forrester as a new home for Pearl, Dr. Bobo and Observer isn’t enough to energize things much. They provide a few laughs, but mostly just act as filler. I actually enjoy the Castle Forrester setting. It works well enough. But the endless chase element seemed like it could have been a fun thread to keep. To bad the MST3K cast and crew didn’t enjoy the concept.

The end result is a below average episode. I can only project two stars out of five for this one.

This episode is available on the Digital Archive Project.

MST3K Introduction can be found here.

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