Sunday, 12 February 2012

Living Laser Beam

Professor Paul Steiner is a brilliant, pockmarked scientist working on a teleportation ray. It works on inanimate objects, but guinea pigs hate it. Due to some behind the scenes machinations (the purpose of which is not divulged) Steiner is in danger of having his funding removed, despite the incredible nature of his work (surely governments would pay very good money for a machine which makes people disappear? The re-materialisation is an optional bonus). When a demonstration is sabotaged, Steiner flips out and repeats the experiment with only the ditsy office secretary to assist him. The silly girl aborts the process half way through, making Steiner reappear miles away, horribly disfigured, filled with fatal electrical energy and, frankly, massively pissed off.

Excellent for about forty minutes, ‘The Projected Man’ builds up to Steiner’s calamitous experiment very well, but gradually falls apart after this pivotal event, becoming episodic and unfocused and, despite a rising death toll, rather boring. One of the things I particularly like about the first half is that (as a non-scientist / idiot) the science seems to make sense, and grown up explanations are given for what takes place; I also like the garish colours, the attractive and intelligent female lead (Mary Peach) and good support work from Mr. Smooth himself, Ronald Allen (David Hunter from ‘Crossroads’ for our elderly readers).

Much of the horror is derived from Steiner’s ruined face, a horrible, half made up mess of raw sinews, exposed teeth and a large, clouded over eye, and the rest from his habit of zapping people to death with a mutated claw like hand. He even kills Sam Kydd, and what harm did Sam Kydd ever do anybody?

So - a game of two halves, I suppose, but that’s okay, they mostly are in this line of business.

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