Trying to Get Ahead – The Man Without a Body (1957)

If there is one thing that can be said of B horror films, it is that they can either be really good, really bad or ‘so bad it’s good,’ and The Man Without a Body definitely falls within that latter category.

The story concerns an old man, a very rich man with a young girlfriend, who has become quite sick and is looking for a cure. With not a lot of time left on his plate, he will do anything to stay within the land of the living. Enter a doctor who might have the cure – the ability to preserve the head of a man beyond death though there is one problem. A head is all well and good but without a body, it all seems kind of pointless. As it is, a head will have to do but more tests will have to be done and this is the point where the movie gets a little crazy as the long-dead head of Nostradamus comes into play, gets revived and then assaulted by the future and the old man named Brussard who absconded with his noggin in the first place. Brussard wants to live in some shape or form and he wants Nostradamus to help him achieve that. In the end, Nostradamus swears revenge upon Brussard and eventually gets it.

One of the biggest negatives to be found with this movie is that it starts out slow, too slow in fact and it takes a while to get itself going. At only eighty minutes long, it wears on the viewer’s patience, making them yearn to turn it off. It is simply the curiosity of the title that keeps one going until finally, that first monkey head makes an appearance and soon enough, it simply takes off from there. The film is packed with craziness and crazy ideas, from what should be a mad scientist who is not, to the procurement of a centuries-old skull that is remarkably well preserved. There is the insanity of Brussard who wants to imprint his brain upon that of Nostradamus, a murder plot from the mistress and the procurement of a body for the returned-to-life sage who then goes shuffling off before finally being subdued. The picture, for all of its zaniness, is quite captivating if one can make it past the first twenty or more minutes. George Coulouris does a solid job as the lead, a man who cannot come to terms with his mortality and a man who has no forgiveness in him whatsoever. As he blunders and bosses his way through the proceedings, he ends up giving a bit of a memorable performance until Nostradamus goes for a walk that is.

As a horror film, there is nothing in The Man Without a Body that will scare but directors Charles Saunders and W. Lee Wilder do a fine job at creating a tense scene with a few sinister vibes throughout and as a science-fiction movie, there are a couple of interesting concepts. It would have been nice to see a little more of the monster and perhaps have a tighter story and script present but overall, this was a fun little picture that has a bit of something for everyone.

3 out of 5

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