It's old news that the Inner Sanctums aren't
much good, so I resolved this time to say nice things about repeat-watch of The
Frozen Ghost, criticism suspended in consideration of forty-nine years it's
been in my life (how many views? Only the man in the crystal ball knows). Let's
start thus: it beats tar out of Columbia's
Whistler, a Sanctum's closest relative among series mysteries. Any Universal B for
me is better than Columbia's
same. Sanctums are visually polished, support casts familiar and friendly, withChaney combative (watch those lapels, co-workers --- he grabs!). Ghost's scheme
is to drive Lon into a "psychopathic court." Did Simon and Schuster
really publish books with plots like this? Apparently so ... they're credited
in all six Sanctums. We expected too much of these as kids, but didn't TV GUIDE
"melodrama" listing of a Frozen Ghost or Dead Man's Eyes, with Lon
Chaney yet, imply horrific happenings?
Universal's was a same quack-like-a-duck ruse
when The Frozen Ghost came out, pairing it with Jungle Captive for a show sold
as shocking to 1945 audiences. But would The Frozen Ghost really "freeze
blood" among first-run viewership?
Perhaps it needed companionship of a Jungle Captive to accomplish that. The ad
here is from Chicago's
first-run. That town's RKO Grand had a sockweek with the horror combo ($14K)
thanks largely to ongoing August '45 revelry over Japan's
surrender and everyone crowding the Loop to
celebrate. How they felt coming out of Universal's parlay might have been
another matter. What to do when neither end of a double feature delivered?
Small wonder Universal's monster franchise fizzled within a year after, though
happy ending came when the six Inner Sanctums (including long out of
circulation Strange Confession) took DVD flight with quality comparable to what
froze 40's blood. We still await, with increasing anxiety, the disc bow of Jungle Captive, but in a meantime would tender below progression of Acquanetta, the original starlet-to-ape of 1943's Captive Wild Woman, first of Universal's "Paula Trilogy" that culminated with Jungle Captive.