Name of the Movie: The Projected Man (1967)
Rating: 3 slimes
Dr. Paul Steiner: Our hero. Well actually our tragic protagonist. A scientist who is left disfigured and homicidal after his experiment with matter teleportation goes awry. Disappears.
Dr. Patricia Hill: A colleague of Paul's. She's a pathologist.
Dr. Chris Mitchell: Mitchell! Okay, sorry. Chris is Paul's young and handsome assistant, prime love interest material for Patricia.
Inspector Davis: Police inspector who is determined to get to the bottom of all these bizarre murders, by jove!
Dr. Blanchard: Paul's boss who sabotages his experiments to discredit him. Fried by Paul.
Mr. Latham: Wealthy businessman with huge bushy eyebrows who is in cahoots with Blanchard. Also fried by Paul. The stench of his burned eyebrows must have been awful.
Sheila Anderson: Paul's busty secretary.
Harry, Steve & Gloria: A trio of bank robbers who have the questionable honor of being Paul's first victims.
Dr. Lembach: An esteemed scientist who Paul wants to impress. He doesn't.
Dr. Paul Steiner, a scientist with really orange hair, and his hunky assistant work at some top secret research foundation, and are experimenting with matter teleportation, like Andre DeLambre (and later Seth Brundle) was doing in The Fly. This is done by basically zapping an object with a special laser, turning it into pure energy, then using the laser to "project" (i.e. teleport) the object to wherever you want it to go, whereupon, in theory, it will reappear fully intact. They've had considerable success with inanimate objects, but living creatures is another matter. That is until Dr. Patricia Hill arrives. She makes fast friends with Paul but it's clear she's gonna get with Chris, considering Paul is on the fast track to being transformed into a slobbering homicidal maniac after his experiment goes predictably awry.
You see, their boss Dr. Blanchard, who is a dead ringer for Walter Peck in Ghostbusters, beard and all, has got it in for Paul for some reason, and wants his experiment to fail. Blanchard is secretly being blackmailed by a wealthy businessman named Mr. Latham who for some reason wants to get his hands on Paul's work and use it for his own evil ends. Just what those ends are is never elaborated upon. In any event, Latham wants Blanchard to sabotage Paul's experiment, something Blanchard is all too happy to do. Paul, Chris, and Patricia successfully project/teleport a live monkey with the laser, and it survives the procedure with no ill effects. They feel they're ready to demonstrate the technology to an esteemed scientist, Dr. Lembach. But at the demonstration Blanchard pours acid on some wires when no one is looking, causing an explosion in the middle of the procedure.
Dr. Lembach is disappointed, and despite having proof of the sabotage and assuring his superiors that he can arrange another demonstration, Paul's funding is cut right there on the spot. Blanchard wants him and his colleagues out by tomorrow. But Paul is no quitter. His mama didn't raise no quitters! So after repairing all the lab equipment, Paul, with Patricia's help, plans to project *himself* to Dr. Blanchard's house where Blanchard is having a dinner party with Dr. Lembach and Mr. Latham (who in addition to being Blanchard's secret partner in slime also appears to be "the money man" for the foundation). Paul figures that him appearing literally out of nowhere will make the three men see that his experiment is a success. Unfortunately, right as he's in the middle of getting zapped with the laser, Chris, who wasn't in on this little scheme, walks in. Needless to say, he freaks the f**k out at the sight of Paul being teleported and tries to stop the whole thing, and in doing so causes... um, something to go wrong. Precisely what goes wrong is never said, but all that need be known is Paul ain't sent to Blanchard's house.
Instead, he winds up in an abandoned construction site being used as a hideout by a trio of criminals as they attempt to tunnel into the nearby bank. Sure enough, Gloria, the trio's lookout, goes to investigate the strange noise that accompanies Paul's arrival, and dies an offscreen death. Harry goes to see what happened to Gloria after he and Steve hear her screams, and we finally see that Paul's little trip has given him the ability to electrocute people by touching them. It's also left the entire right side of his body horribly scarred/deformed/melted/whatever, so that he basically resembles Two-Face from Batman. Paul kills Harry and Steve, sending them to that big bank heist in the sky, then wanders around aimlessly before robbing a store and putting on some rubber gloves. Apparently, he's not *completely* mindless, and realizes that his touch can cause bad things to happen. A triple homicide isn't something Scotland Yard ignores. Especially when the three dead bodies have burns on them that would suggest electrocution, despite there being nothing where they were found capable of packing that kind of voltage. Enter this movie's obligatory cop character, Inspector Davis, who is determined to get to the bottom of this, by jove!
In the meantime, Blanchard and Latham plot to go down to the laboratory and get their hands on Paul's data tapes. Blanchard will distract Patricia and Chris, who are trying to figure out WTF happened to Paul, while Latham will sneak into the lab and nab the tapes. Unfortunately for Latham, the lab is the first place Paul has made a beeline for. Scratch one evil businessman. And in an interesting blooper, when Paul kills Latham, he hits him on the right side of his face. But when his corpse is found, the wounds are on the *left* side. Yay for continuity! Paul also kidnaps his busty secretary Sheila (who up until this point was so unimportant to the plot I forgot to even mention her until now) in order to question her about just what Blanchard and Latham were up to, and through her, he learns about Blanchard's plot against him. Having already disposed of Latham, Paul decides that Blanchard is next on his hit list.
In the wake of the discovery of Latham's body, Inspector Davis is called in, and immediately recognizes the burns on the body as being identical to the three robbers from earlier. Patricia and Chris, despite Blanchard's objections, come clean about what happened with Paul, and reason that getting improperly teleported must have done something to him, both physically and mentally. Blanchard pulls a Cartman and does everything but say "Screw you guys, I'm going home!" and, well, goes home. Which is where Paul lies in wait! Exit Blanchard. (There's also some truly bizarre little subplot during this part of the movie. Before Paul kills him, Blanchard receives a phone call from a shady individual we'd seen with Latham before, and he claims to be Latham's boss, and, apparently, he wants Blanchard to work for him the way he worked for Latham, but, annoyingly, nothing ever comes of this. We never learn who this guy is. Admittedly, I've only seen the MST3k version of The Projected Man, so maybe further scenes concerning this mysterious character were cut out.)
Chris, Patricia, and Inspector Davis find Sheila alive and she tells them that Paul means to kill Dr. Blanchard. But of course, they get there too late and find Blanchard dead. Oops. Now, the movie is winding down. Apparently realizing how unwise it was to have Paul kill off both of his enemies so early in the movie, thus making the payoff rather weak, the writers decided to suddenly dump in the idea that Paul needs to consume raw energy to survive, and each time he uses his electrical powers he gets weaker and weaker, and will eventually die. So Paul shows up at Patricia's place and finds her gettin' cozy with Chris, and is pretty angry, since he obviously had affection for Patricia despite the feeling not exactly being mutual. Paul says he came in the hopes that they could help him find energy to consume, but they instead try to persuade him to return with them to the lab so they can find a way to undoing what was done to him. But Paul is having none of it. He's on a power trip (no pun intended), and besides, he reasons that even if they can fix it so he's not a walking health hazard who melts doorknobs and fries people with his touch, there's nothing they can do about the horribly disfigured right side. So he storms off.
Patricia and Chris go and get Inspector Davis, and together the three conclude that the most likely place Paul will go is a nearby power plant (duh!). And it was at this point that I was beginning to notice a lot of similarities to 1977's The Incredible Melting Man, which also had the disfigured, homicidal protagonist being pursued by his colleagues and the local law enforcement, ending up in a power plant at the end. Coincidence? Yeah, probably.
Sure enough, our intrepid trio finds Paul wandering around a power plant at night, and try to bring him in. Inspector Davis is all for killing him, but this becomes a moot point when bullets fail to have any effect on him! Taking charge, Patricia tells Chris to go back to the lab and get the equipment ready for their plan to reverse Paul's condition, while she remains here with Davis to try and convince Paul to come in with them peacefully. Paul throws a temper tantrum at these suggestions, even when she tells him that the lab is a great place for him to acquire more energy, but, ultimately, he agrees to go with her. At the lab, Chris has everything ready. Paul enters with Patricia and Inspector Davis, and then, uh... well here the movie basically falls apart. Paul attacks the controls, destroying them and causing everything to go bats**t haywire. The laser starts randomly zapping stuff, setting everything on fire, and finally zaps Paul himself. As Patricia, Chris, and Davis look on, Paul vanishes from sight. The End. (Incidentally, our three remaining characters are last seen standing amidst the flaming inferno of the laboratory, and the movie ends right after Paul disappears, so we're left to wonder whether or not they get out, and for all the audience knows they probably burned to death.)
My verdict? The movie is basically a British version of The Fly meets The Incredible Melting Man, despite being made some time before the latter. The Projected Man wasn't a bad movie, all things considered, but it was still very cheesy, and is up there with The Blood Beast Terror as a fine example of embarrassing but fun British horror. A random bit of trivia is that Harry, one of the three crooks Paul kills early on, is played by Sam Kydd, the only actor in the movie I recognized. Kydd was Constable Harris in Island of Terror, which appeared as a double bill with this film when the movies came over to the U.S. And Kydd dies in almost the exact same manner in both movies, too. At least, in the sense that, in Island of Terror, Harris meets his end after wandering around calling out "Dr. Landers? Dr. Landers? Dr. Landers?", and here Harry bites it after wandering around calling out "Gloria? Gloria? Gloria?"