I know that Lon Chaney Jr.’s career highlight was being in the Universal monster movies. I realize that the end of his life seems sad — he suffered from throat cancer and heart disease after decades of hard drinking and smoking. In fact, Robert Stack claimed in his autobiography that Chaney and Broderick Crawford were known around the Universal lot as “the monsters” due to how much they drank and raised hell.
Despite living in his father’s shadow, Chaney could be one hell of an actor. After all, he played Lennie Small in the original Of Mice and Men. You get reminded of that when you watch late period Chaney and he has to use his voice and body instead of makeup in films like Spider Baby (why I haven’t reviewed that yet I have no idea).
That brings us to The Devil’s Messenger, a 1961 anthology that takes three episodes of the Swedish TV series 13 Demon Street. From the tale of a 50,000-year-old woman trapped in ice bewitching scientists to a man who learns of his death in a dream to a photographer who attacks a woman in teh snow and can’t escape her, these are some pretty decent stories. And oh yeah — there’s a framing device starring Chaney, Karen Kadler and John Crawford that was directed by Herbert L. Strock (I Was a Teenage Frankenstein).
Guess what? Those three Swedish episodes — The Photograph,” “The Girl in the Glacier,” and “Condemned in Crystal” — were directed by Curt Siodmak. Who is that? Oh, only the guy who wrote the original The Wolf Man, I Walked with a Zombie, Son of Dracula and House of Frankenstein as well as directing Curucu, Beast of the Amazon and The Magnetic Monster.
Look, any movie where Lon Chaney Jr. makes good on Satan’s plot to nuke the world is one I’m going to love.
You can watch this on Amazon Prime.