Professor Charles Conway is a mad scientist attempting to develop the proverbial fountain of youth by creating "the 17th gland". Ignoring all aspects of scientific ethics, his research subjects are people who have no family and are under the impression that the doctor can cure their depression. However, his research hasn't been successful and his subjects are turned into grotesque zombies. Some of Conway's patients begin to catch on to his scheme and intend to stop him.
John Carradine ... Dr. Charles Conway
Myron Healey ... Mark Houston (as Myron Healy)
Allison Hayes ... Grace Thomas
Marilyn Buferd ... Dr. Sharon Gilchrist (as Marylyn Buferd)
Arthur Batanides ... Danny Green
Sally Todd ... Natalie Anders
Tor Johnson ... Lobo
Roy Gordon ... Dr. Loren Wright
Guy Prescott ... Captain Reagan
Dr. Conway (John Carradine) runs a strange medical home in a decayed and isolated mansion. How strange is it? Well, it's so strange that Lobo (Tor Johnson) works there.
Ed Wood occasionally receives a writing credit for this bit of 1957 drive-in dreck; in truth his only contribution to the film is the character Lobo, which is lifted directly from Wood's 1955 BRIDE OF THE MONSTER. Even so THE UNEARTHLY, scripted by John Black and Jane Mann, is certainly bad enough to be an Ed Wood movie. Unfortunately it isn't nearly as funny.
Dr. Conway's newest patient is Grace (Allison Hayes), who is unaware that the place is a front for unnatural experiments involving artificial glands. Fortunately for Grace, murder-on-the-run Mark (Myron Healey) stumbles onto the grounds and proves more than a match for the good doctor and his evil associates. Throw in Marilyn Buferd, Arthur Batanides, Sally Todd and an idea or two yanked from H.G. Wells' ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU and there you go.
By this point John Carradine had been typed in mad doctor roles and he delivers a typical John Carradine mad doctor performance. Allison Hayes, a beautiful and interesting actress who never got the breaks she deserved, is an always welcome sight--and yes, it is fun to see Tor Johnson doing his slack-jawed routine again. But in a general sense THE UNEARTLY isn't so much a badly made film as it is an utterly uninteresting one. If you're among the hardcore fans of 1950s drive in fare you might enjoy it, but I'm not holding my breath on it.
This movie only gets this score from me because of its ending. The whole film is dull and poorly shot, but the twist ending (which I won't reveal) is rather startling and would have been brilliant in a better movie. Unfortunately this is not a better movie. I would like to attribute this ending to the immortal Edward D. Wood Jr. but we can only thank him for the characters and the appearance of token Wood actor, Tor Johnson, who seems to be going for that Don Johnson look. Even as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 movie, The Unearthly is barely watchable. Even the 'bots could hardly joke and save this poor piece of film with an ending deserving of a different movie.
Before MST3K, I saw no purpose for movies this bad. This one had dreary cinematography, terrible pacing, poor scientific speculation, annoying acting, the list goes on. Unless you want to make fun of this one yourself, just get that version.
It gets a great MST3K treatment: they had a lot of fun with the above problems, the silly characterizations and most of all, Tor Johnson. I'm not sure if he really saw himself as an actor or just took whatever work paid the bills. :-) His screen presence is, well, just presence. He's just out there without any refinement whatsoever. Definitely funny to watch.