Movie star Clark Denver is in Cannes working on a movie when he dies in a car accident. The studio has a quarter of a million dollar life insurance policy on Denver. They send in a claim to the Consolidated Insurance Company. Mr. Wayne (Alan Gifford) the chief of the insurance company sends Jeff Keenan (Rod Cameron) to investigate whether or not Denver died as a result of an accident or suicide.
Jeff contacts Brad Somers (Larry Cross), a friend of his at the studio. Brad tells him that Denver had disappeared for three months before resurfacing and dying. He also tells Jeff that two other prominent people had also disappeared for awhile and when they returned died. Both of natural causes but no autopsies were done. Brad also says that all three men were acquainted with Verna Berteaux (Roberta Huby). All of the men had been to a psychiatric clinic in Amercon.
Jeff talks to Verna but learns nothing new. He then talks to the Police Commissioner (Felix Fenton), who was in charge of the investigation into Denver’s accident, and to the Police Doctor (Jacques Cey). The doctor says that Denver died before the accident happened but is hopeful that an autopsy will tell him more. Jeff then heads to the Amercon clinic. At the clinic Jeff runs into an old flame, Ruth Vance (Mary Murphy). Ruth is engaged to Paul Zakon (Peter Illing), the owner of the clinic. On staff is Dr. Hoff (Carl Jaffe), Dr Maxwell (Meredith Edwards) and Maxwell’s wife Laura (Kay Callard).
The clinic deals with patients with psychological issues. They are put into a dream-like sleep. A metal electrode helmet is placed on the patient’s head. Tapes are played that place images into the patient’s brain. The patient is then put into a small cubicle similar to a drawer in a filing cabinet. The patient remains there in a state similar to suspended animation until the treatment is completed.
Recently, however, there have been a few people who have died. Jeff digs further and finds a cover-up that includes murder and exposes a plot contrived by a former Nazi to indoctrinate people of power to serve only him. Everyone else is expendable.
“Escapement” AKA “The Electronic Monster” AKA “Dream Machine” was released in 1958 and was directed by Montgomery Tully and David Paltenghi. It is a British science fiction crime mystery and was based on the novel “Escapement” by Charles Eric Main.
A lot of people found the film to be boring and talky. I actually liked it. There are a few aspects of the film where its potential did not totally come to fruition and some plot threads that petered out. Granted it wasn’t action packed and it was a little slow going at times but I was intrigued by not only the plot but with the music score as well. In with the stock music were some interesting electronic sounds. They reminded me a little of the electronic tonalities done by Louis and Bebe Barron for “Forbidden Planet” 1956, only a little more subdued. Occasionally the electronic sounds were a little jarring but for the most part I didn’t have a problem with them.
The dream sequences are on the Avant Garde side and a nice little slice of unorthodoxy sprinkled within the film. The dream sequences were directed by Paltenghi. I don’t think any of the titles did the movie any good either. Some people were looking for a monster and some to just escape. The film isn’t captivating for kids or even most adults but when you’ve seen so many really bad movies, coming across a mediocre one is like a birthday present you never expected but wasn’t really something you wanted. You just take it for what it is. A nice gesture.
In a nutshell, everyone hated it, except me.