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The Phantom Creeps


The Phantom Creeps is everything an old classic B sci-fi is supposed to be. It features Bela Lugosi (as Dr. Zorka), a mad megalomaniac genius with a utility belt and a sack of gadgets that would make Batman and James Bond blush, against a team of CIA-types, a reporter, and local law enforcement. Lugosi hams up a storm and really seems to enjoy himself in this immensely silly role. His somewhat untrustworthy and dull side-kick, played by Jack Smith is a great foil to his overbearing stage presence, and he makes a truly great sadist!

The Phantom Creeps is a 1939 in film Serial (film) about a mad scientist who attempts to rule the world by creating various elaborate inventions. In a dramatic fashion, foreign agents and G-Man (slang) try to seize the inventions for themselves.
It was the 112th serial released by Universal Pictures and the 44th to have sound. The serial stars Béla Lugosi as the villainous Doctor Zorka with Dorothy Arnold (Olson) and Robert Kent (actor).
It was adapted in DC's Movie Comics #6, cover date September–October 1939, the final issue of that title.<></>
The first three episodes of The Phantom Creeps were lampooned during the second season of the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.


Dr. Zorka, a rogue scientist, is the creator of various weapons of warfare, including a devisualizer belt which renders him invisible; an eight-foot tall slave robot (Ed Wolff (actor)), robot spiders that can destroy life or paralyse it and he also has a deadly meteorite fragment from which he extracts an element which can induce suspended animation in an entire army. Foreign spies, operating under the guise of a foreign language school, are trying to buy or mostly steal the meteorite element, while his former partner, Dr. Fred Mallory, miffed that Zorka will not turn his inventions over to the U.S. Government, blows the whistle on him to Captain Bob West of the Military Intelligence Department. Tired of answering the door and saying no to the spies and the government, Zorka moves his lab. When his beloved wife is killed, Zorka, puttering around for his own amusement up to this point, is crushed and swears eternal vengeance against anyone trying to use his creations to make himself world dictator. And would have if not for his assistant Monk, an escaped convict virtually enslaved by Zorka, who is cowardly, treacherous and totally incompetent, and whose accidental or deliberate interference with Zorka's efforts repeatedly frustrates his master's own plans...


  • Béla Lugosi as Dr. Alex Zorka. Lugosi received top billing for this, his final serial appearance.< name="GMS"></>
    • Robert Kent (actor) as Capt. Bob West, G-Man (slang)
    • Dorothy Arnold (Olson) as Jean Drew, reporter
    • Edwin Stanley as Dr. Fred Mallory, Dr. Zorka's former partner
    • Regis Toomey as Lt. Jim Daley, G-Man
    • Jack C. Smith as Monk, Dr. Zorka's assistant
    • Edward Van Sloan as Jarvis, foreign spy chief
    • Dora Clement as Ann Zorka
    • Anthony Averill as Rankin, a foreign spy
    • Hugh Huntley as Perkins, Dr. Mallory's lab assistant
    • Ed Wolff (actor) as The Robot


    The serial contains some similarities with the earlier serial The Vanishing Shadow, such as an invisibility belt and a remote-control robot. Stock footage was used from The Invisible Ray (1936 film) (look closely and you'll see Boris Karloff), including scenes of Dr Zorka finding the meteorite in Africa. As with several Universal serials, some of the stock music came from the Frankenstein (1931 film). The Phantom Creeps<nowiki>'</nowiki> car chase was itself used as stock footage in later serials.<></> Newsreel shots of the Hindenburg disaster were used as part of Dr Zorka's final spree of destruction after his robot, which is supposed to destroy the human race, is stopped due to the sabotage by Monk after being unleashed.</>


    The innovation of the scrolling text version of the synopsis at the beginning of each chapter was used for the Star Wars films as the "Star Wars opening crawl".
    The Rob Zombie song Meet the Creeper is based on this movie, and Zombie has used robots and props based on the design of The Robot in several music videos and live shows. The character Murray The Robot in Zombie's animated movie The Haunted World of El Superbeasto is also based on The Robot.

    Chapter titles

    1. The Menacing Power
    2. Death Stalks the Highways
    3. Crashing Towers
    4. Invisible Terror
    5. Thundering Rails
    6. The Iron Monster
    7. The Menacing Mist
    8. Trapped in the Flames
    9. Speeding Doom
    10. Phantom Footprints
    11. The Blast
    12. To Destroy the World

    See also

    • List of film serials by year
    • List of film serials by studio
    • List of films in the public domain

    Category:1939 films
    Category:American science fiction films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Pre-1950 science fiction films
    Category:Universal Pictures film serials
    Category:Films directed by Ford Beebe
    Category:Films featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes
    Category:Short films featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes
    Category:Compilation films
  • 2.67
    Henry MacRae

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