The Hideous Sun Demon [DVD] [1959]

A perennial favorite among baby-boomer horror buffs, The Hideous Sun Demon was a fixture on TV horror movie showcases for most of the 1960s. It largely disappeared in the 1970s and turned up in a comically redubbed version in the 1980s, before appearing (in its "straight" original version) on DVD in the summer of 2000. The Image Entertainment DVD offers a clean transfer of the film off of a decent 35 mm source. There is some frame damage and scratches (and one also wonders if the makers intended the day-for-night shots in the first half to look quite so much like day shots), but the DVD has a clean audio track, and it does make the most of the available contrast and sharpness. Although the DVD packaging doesn't announce it (and one must access the menu to find it), the original trailer is included as a bonus and sums up most of the movie's best action shots. The film itself is an updating of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, about a scientist (Robert Clarke) who, because of exposure to an unknown form of radiation, turns into a lizard-like creature when he comes into contact with sunlight. Clarke, who originated, produced, and directed the movie, is very effective as the tormented victim who, to protect himself and the rest of the world, tries (unsuccessfully) to become a creature of the night. Despite a low budget and a very threadbare look to many of its scenes, the movie has a kinetic energy that makes it hard to dislike, and within the context of B-horror titles, it is better than most of the competition. Fans of Night of the Living Dead may also want to give the DVD a tumble for the music track. The score for The Hideous Sun Demon was tracked in from pre-existing music, and some of the same music was licensed by the makers of Night of the Living Dead.
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Overview

Synopsis

The Hideous Sun Demon
Sunblock can't save you from the solar-powered monster in this sci-fi cult item. Dr. Gilbert McKenna (Robert Clarke) is a research scientist who is exposed to dangerously radioactive materials during a visit to an atomic power plant. The radiation causes McKenna to mutate into a strange and murderous half-man, half-reptile when he comes into contact with the rays of the sun. The isotopes also have another effect on him; he begins to forget about his loyal girlfriend Ann Russell (Patricia Manning) and starts taking up with blonde bombshell Trudy Osborne (Nan Peterson), who brings out the beast in him as surely as the sun. The Hideous Sun Demon was co-produced, co-written, and co-directed by leading man Robert Clarke; it was his first and last effort as a writer and director, though he was to remain active as an actor for another 30 years. In 1983, a group of comedians re-edited the film and dubbed in a new soundtrack; the results were released as What's Up, Hideous Sun Demon? ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Del Courtney - Radio Announcer
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    Robert Clarke - Dr. Gilbert McKenna
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    Patricia Manning - Ann Russell
  • Nan Peterson
    Nan Peterson - Trudy Osborne
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    Bill Hampton - Police Lieutenant
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