US film (1953). Allied Artists/Monogram Studios. Directed by William Cameron Menzies. Written by Daniel B Ullman from the novel The Maze (1945) by Maurice Sandoz (1892-1958). Cast includes Richard Carlson, Katherine Emery, Veronica Hurst and Michael Pate. 80 minutes. Black and white.
Sir Gerald McTeam (Carlson) receives a message which causes him to abruptly break off his engagement to Kitty (Hurst) and rush to the castle he has inherited in the Scottish highlands, with no explanation to her. Not a woman easily discouraged, Kitty follows him, accompanied by her aunt (Emery), and gradually unravels the reason behind Sir Gerald's actions. After several mysterious events in and around the castle – which has an adjoining hedge-maze (see Labyrinths) – she learns that Sir Gerald's family has for generations guarded a deep secret concerning his great-great-grandfather. Perhaps through some genetic mutation (see Mutants), the elder McTeam was born "frozen" in the amphibious stage of foetal development: that is, in the form of a frog. He grew to be roughly the size of a full-grown human – the traditional family Monster – and having the life-span of some amphibians, is well over two hundred years old. Upon learning that his secret has been discovered, the old frog-gentleman leaps to his death from a castle turret, clearing the way for the marriage to go forward.
More a Gothic horror-mystery than straightforward sf, The Maze features Menzies' usual stylish design and benefits from his strong direction, although it is never very frightening. Shot in 3-D, it was his last film; one of Carlson's more obscure sf/horror vehicles. [GSt]
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