FROZEN ALIVE ** UK / West Germany 1964 Dir: Bernard Knowles. 81 mins
Sometimes you just view a film that is just there. Many of the ‘slow burn’ pictures of today with their build-up followed by rapid-fire scares and effects-laden conclusions that set up a sequel are this way. Frozen Alive (1964) just simply exists with a simple story overshadowed by domestic troubles.
Strikingly like Curse Of The Fly (1965) with an American star, in this case, star Mark Stevens as a scientist, Frank Overton, working with his associate Helen Wieland (Marianne Koch) to perfect suspended animation. In this case, the two are experimenting on chimps by freezing and then resuscitating them. This obviously would not work for today’s audience, but this is 1964 when in the burgeoning Space Race, many animals were launched into orbit by the United States and the then Soviet Union.
Screenwriter Evelyn Frazer and director Bernard Knowles seem more at home with ‘B’ film material from Gainsborough Studio. Directors Bernard Knowles was the cinematographer for the classic version of The 39 Steps (1935) plus directed episodes of various adventure television series like The Adventures Of Robin Hood with Richard Greene.
Screenwriter Evelyn Frazer wrote British television including episodes of the 1962 limited series called The Monsters. This concerned a couple honeymooning in a North England village when a government agent is found dead. The locals all say that it was a Monster. I bring up these ideas as to show what you get in the Frozen Alive (1964). A bit of science fiction in this case a process to suspend life for the world’s benefit coupled with and the best part of the film, a domestic love triangle.
Frozen Alive (1964) is long on talk with the best part being played and overplayed by Delphi Lawrence, in the role of Joan as a cheating alcoholic wife of Overton who is having an affair that would not look out of place in a TV episode of The Saint. The characters are reasonably engaging; nobody here is particularly dislikeable. Lots of pseudo-scientific chatter with some good German accents coupled with social drinking, domestic blow-ups, romantic near misses and yes of course the experiment itself. Overton gets the idea three-quarters of the way through the film that freezing should now be done on humans. He of course volunteers with an exciting result that could benefit mankind.
Interesting to note that Marianne Koch who plays Dr. Helen Wieland and Wolfgang Lukschy in the role of Inspector Prenton were both in the landmark western A Fistful Of Dollars (1964).
Frozen Alive (1964) is nothing special however it does boast the single swinging opening title music with some shadows of Monty Norman’s classic James Bond theme. Mark Stevens looks sincere in his role as the scientist torn between his wife and his lovely assistant. The film still belongs to Delphi Lawrence who carries on with exotic continental crime novelist lover Tony Stein played by Joachim Hansen. Lawrence’s ‘Glynis John’ pitched voice and drunken bitter babbling even to the point of shooting herself in the chest make this film fun in an odd sort of way. Fun for some but perhaps not for those who want Science fiction with more 1960s edge.
Review by Terry Sherwood
FROZEN ALIVE is available on Amazon Prime Video in the USA