Thursday, 8 January 2015

Frozen Alive (1964)

I quite liked the first act of this film.  It kicks off with two scientists - a man and a woman - who are preparing for an important presentation.  The scene shows a strong camaraderie between them, with perhaps a hint of something more.  Nicely done.  Then we meet the wife of the male scientist, who is quite delightfully catty, and also quite sure that - whether her husband realises it or not - there's more than just friendship between the two researchers.  Of course, given how close she seems to her own male friend, there may be some glass houses at play.

The research in question?  Cryogenically freezing chimpanzees and then returning them to life.  This has been successfully accomplished on several occasions, and there is quiet talk of human tests - something that some of their superiors have no desire to see.  Presumably on religious grounds, though the film never really spells that out.

After their presentation is a big success, there's a nice awkward scene where catty wife meets female scientist.

And then the movie kind of loses its way.  Having established the four characters and the science fiction gimmick - and it is a gimmick, it could readily be removed without really impacting the basic course of events - it doesn't seem to know how to move them along the arc in a satisfying manner.

What the movie is trying to set up is a situation where the other characters think it is possible that the male scientist murdered his wife.  But it also wants to have him volunteer to be the first subject of human trials.  This requires some credibility-straining contrivances, to say the least, and there's no pay-off for it.  Like I said, the whole cryogenics thing could have been ditched without real effect on the film.  His being unconscious and accused is I guess intended to be dramatic, but it's not really any more so than his just being accused of a crime he did not commit.

Disappointing, since the beginning promised more than was actually delivered.

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