Round four of the Inner Sanctum mysteries brings us a new director, Harold Young, and NO throaty whisper narration from Lon Chaney. Good riddance, I say. The Frozen Ghost is a wickedly fun little murder tale in which a mentalist is framed for murder because he kills people with mind bullets. Something like that. While the mentalist angle is kinda weak, The Frozen Ghost makes up for it with a wonderfully menacing villain and a creepy setting within a wax museum. When was the last time you saw a movie about an ex-plastic surgeon turned wax sculptor knife thrower?!
Chaney stars as Gregor the Great, a stage mentalist whose gag is putting his fiance into a hypnotic trance so she can read people’s minds. One night he’s being heckled by this old dude who’s completely shitfaced, and when the heckler comes on stage to have his mind read, he drops dead. Everyone thinks Gregor did it with his mind bullets, but the medical examiner concludes that the drunk died from a heart attack. Nevertheless, it drives Gregor into a deep state of depression. So much so that he swears off mentalism and even breaks the engagement with his fiance assistant.
So what’s a washed up hypnotist to do? Work in a wax museum, I guess. Gregor gets a gig lecturing at Mme Valerie Monet’s wax museum alongside one of the creepiest guys I’ve ever seen on film. Honestly, the cat’s name is Rudi Poldan, a former plastic surgeon who sculpts the creepy as hell historical figures who populate the museum. He’s played by Martin Kosleck, a German transplant who frequently played a Nazi despite his seething hatred for them. According to his Wikipedia page he also hated Chaney’s guts, which makes their onscreen conflict all the more palpable.
Rudi becomes jealous of Gregor for stealing his thunder at the wax museum. His hatred of Gregor becomes like a virus that also infects Valerie, the museum owner. She then disappears and once again Gregor’s mind bullets are blamed. Turns out homegirl went into a coma and Rudi posed her as a wax figure, which doesn’t sound so creepy on paper, but is TERRIFYING on screen, with Kosleck doing the dirt. Shit man, is he just creepy because he has a German accent? Am I racist?
Either way, The Frozen Ghost is certainly a highlight of the Inner Sanctum series. So far I’d place it right behind Weird Woman for most solid of the group. The Frozen Ghost is available on YouTube definitely check it out.
Inner Sanctum Power Rankings:
1. Weird Woman
4. The Frozen Ghost