The Purple Monster Strikes (1945)

Article #1333 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-7-2004
Posting Date: 4-6-2005
Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet and Fred C. Brannon
Featuring Dennis Moore, Linda Stirling, Roy Barcroft

A man from Mars crashes on Earth with the intention of stealing our scientific secrets in order to launch an invasion of our planet.

I’ll admit I’m a happy camper with this one, but that may well be due to the fact that for once I’m watching a serial where the science fiction elements are prominent rather than hovering around the edges. The Purple Monster has a neat trick; he has a gas that can kill humans and allow him to take over their bodies. This concept is introduced in the first episode, but if you miss it, don’t worry; they repeat the footage of having him possess the body of Dr. Craven or of having him leave Dr. Craven’s body in every episode. I’m pretty sure it’s the same footage as well; why does he always stand by the same door when he’s taking his gas? At any rate, it allows the Purple Monster to be both a spy (in the doctor’s form) and to take part in the fist fights that occur regularly (in his purple monster form). Roy Barcroft does a fine job in the title role; he even seems comfortable in that silly costume. Naturally, with such an interesting villain, Serial Rule #1 ( Interesting Hero = Dull Villain; Interesting Villain = Dull Hero) applies, and Dennis Moore does little more than fight and dress snazzily. Linda Stirling plays the female interest, but I thought she was more interesting in PERILS OF THE DARKEST JUNGLE, though I’ll have to admit that the costume may be responsible for that. Despite a certain amount of repetitiveness, this is a good one, with lots of science fiction gadgetry, some excellent cliffhangers, particularly one where the hero is trapped in an alcove with a pay phone between a wall of spikes and a moving wall forcing him into them; his solution to his dilemma is truly memorable.

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