Film (1957). Clover Productions/Columbia Pictures. produced by Sam Katzman. Directed by László Kardos. Written by Bernard Gordon. Cast includes Charlotte Austin, Tina Carver, Paul Cavanagh, Ann Doran, William Hudson, Victor Jory, George Lynn, Victor Varconi, Friedrich von Ledebur (credited as Frederick Ledebur) and Jean Willes. 71 minutes. Black and white.
Social worker Adams (Austin) and her romantic interest, state psychiatrist Dr Jess Rogers (Hudson), grow increasingly curious about the high number of deaths of young inmates at the LaSalle Detention Home for Young Women in the two years since Dr Murdock (Jory) became its director. Most supposedly died of heart failure despite their youth. One inmate, Tracy (Willes), accidentally discovers a secret laboratory used by Murdock and his colleagues to extend their lives by siphoning off the vitality from the inmates via a sort of electronic sulphur bath. If a treatment is missed, the beneficiary begins to turn to stone. All the conspirators are well over two hundred years old, it emerges, including the group's only female member, Mrs Ford (Doran). One of their number, Cooper (Cavanagh) decides he cannot continue to go along with this Immortality scheme and attempts to aid Rogers and Adams, but is found out; he petrifies shortly afterwards. An earlier failed experiment of Murdock's, Eric (Ledebur) is a semi-intelligent Monster whom Murdock has used as an enforcer, but has now decided to do away with. Eric realizes this soon after Dr Rogers and Ms Adams are captured, and goes berserk, giving the two a chance to escape; he also frees the inmates during his rampage before he dies. The women seek revenge on Murdock and Mrs Ford, the last two remaining alive by this point, who finally burn to death as the detention centre goes up in flames. The inmates flee into the night, leaving Carol and Rogers to await the arrival of the police.
A fairly routine Horror in SF picture with a theme that was already becoming well worn, The Man who Turned to Stone holds some interest for its combination of sf with the juvenile-delinquent genre popular in US Cinema of the period. Most of the actresses are perhaps too old to portray such young offenders, but do a credible job nevertheless. [GFi]
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