Madness Made Flesh – Terror Is a Man (1959)

Merging man with animal has always seemed to be an obsession for many a mad scientist, trying to graft together the best parts of both species. While certain traits from certain creatures might prove viable through science at some point in the future, suffice it to say, it has never worked out on film with said man or monster usually turning out far worse for it. Most would assume that Terror Is a Man would refer to the creature that appears in the movie, a hybrid of man and beast and yet that assumption would be completely false. For the most part in pictures like these, the poor creatures cannot help what they become, victims as much as those they end up terrorizing. The real terror is the person, the so-called doctor that created it, meddling with things that should not be meddled with.

In this instance, Dr. Charles Girard as played by Francis Lederer is the man responsible for all the pain, hurt, suffering and death that takes place around him. Washing up on the shore of the island is a man named William who is supposed to be the hero of the film, but it is the boy Tiago who ends up being the conscience. William eventually figures out what is going on with Dr. Girard, meanwhile falling in love with the man’s wife as portrayed by Greta Thyssen, and instead of trying to stop what the doctor is doing, for whatever reason, just lets him continue on. What is most interesting about Richard Derr’s character William, is the fact that he is so unlike the usual hero many are used to seeing on-screen, though to be fair, he was not given too many of those moments where heroes tend to shine. Yes, he could have put a stop to the doctor the moment he found out instead of trying to be best friends with the guy and he could have stopped messing around with the married woman and put the poor creature out of its misery, but none of that happened. Instead, he arguably saves the day only when Frances is in trouble, though her being in peril is debatable. The only likable person out of the entire cast was Tiago, the boy who seemed to have at least a little empathy for the monster and who, at the end of the day, was the only one willing to help it.

Running at just under ninety minutes, the film was a little overlong, dragged right out by director Gerardo de Leon. While it was not exceptionally lacklustre, it could have been a bit shorter without losing anything in the process. That being said, there was a lot of characterization developed and the script was not all that bad either, actually giving the cast something to work with. The special effects for the creature were decent, especially given the type of film this was and the probable small budget. Still, a little more action would have been welcome and a little more horror to give it a bit of an edge, but as it is, Terror Is a Man turned out to be all right.

2.5 out of 5

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