The Frozen Dead (1966)
“Frozen alive for 20 years! Now they return from their icy graves to seek vengeance!”
Director: Herbert J. Leder
Cast: Dana Andrews, Anna Palk, Philip Gilbert
Synopsis: A crazed scientist keeps the heads of Nazi war criminals alive until he can find appropriate bodies on which to attach them so he can revive the Third Reich.
Needless to say, Dana Andrews’ (A Walk in the Sun, The Best Years of Our Lives) life and career were both in the doldrums when he made this dire horror movie. He plays Dr Norberg, a former Nazi now living in England who, for the last 20 years has been trying to resurrect the dead bodies of high-ranking German officials in an attempt to kick start the Fourth Reich. Quite how he managed to transport these dead Nazis, some of whom are still in uniform, to his English mansion is a mystery that’s never explained, but no matter. Working at home has its benefits, but access to raw materials isn’t one of them, and the good doctor needs to get his hands on a living – or freshly deceased – brain in order to figure out why all those high-ranking Nazis behave like residents of a lunatic asylum when he resurrects them.
With appalling timing, Norberg’s niece, Jean (Anna Palk), who has no idea that her beloved Uncle is conducting Frankenstein experiments in the cellar, pays a surprise visit with her hot friend, Elsa (Kathleen Breck), who soon finds herself being drugged by Norberg’s dedicated but inept assistant, Karl (Alan Tilvern) and throttled by one of the doctor’s failed experiments (Edward ‘what’s he doing in this?’ Fox – The Day of the Jackal). Perhaps unwisely, Norberg decides to keep the poor girl’s brain alive so that he can conduct further research into resurrecting the dead, but doesn’t count on his niece’s doubts about his hastily contrived cover story regarding the mysterious disappearance of her friend.
The Frozen Dead is one of those titles that just draws you in. I mean, how can anybody’s curiosity not be piqued by a title like that? Sadly, as in this case, the trashy appeal of the title is usually in direct reverse correlation to the quality of the material, and sure enough, The Frozen Dead is 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. Andrews looks suitably embarrassed by the whole thing, while most of his co-stars were probably just pleased to be working outside of TV for a change.
(Reviewed 25th October 2014)