Film Serial Review: Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940)

Release Date: December 13th, 1940 (first chapter)
Directed by: William Witney, John English
Written by: Franklin Adreon, Ronald Davidson, Norman S. Hall, Joseph F. Poland, Barney A. Sarecky, Sol Shor
Music by: Cy Feuer, Ross DiMaggio, Mort Glickman
Cast: Edward Ciannelli, Robert Wilcox, William Newell, C. Montague Shaw, Ella Neal, Dorothy Herbert

Republic Pictures, 267 Minutes total (15 episodes), 100 Minutes (film)

Review:

I love serials. Although, I hate cereal.

One is a really long movie of bizarre yet awesome proportions with cliff hangers, splitting it into lots of chapters. The other is a bunch of soggy crap that babies and weirdos eat that only works if it has colorful marshmallows in it and a pedophile leprechaun on the box.

The serial I watched most recently is another one put out by Republic Pictures. It doesn’t feature a famous comic book hero but it has a mad scientist and a new superhero created just for this story.

The villains is, you guessed it, Doctor Satan. But he isn’t the same Doctor Satan that would appear in those early Rob Zombie splatter movies.

The hero is a masked vigilante known as The Copperhead. His real identity is Bob Wayne, who is not related to Bruce Wayne but is seeking justice and revenge on Doctor Satan over the death of his stepfather.

The Copperhead is kind of cool and Republic should have spun this into a series. It was later remade though into a Turkish action film called The Deathless Devil (Yilmayan seytan), which I have never seen but I’m going to try and find.

The visual style and tone of this serial is consistent with other ones done by Republic Pictures. The action is pretty well done. Overall, it is the story that is its greatest feature. It is well-paced with cliffhangers that feel less cookie cutter. Also, the characters are just cool.

At some point, I will do a list ranking the best serials and this will be in the upper echelon, especially for something that doesn’t rely on already well-known characters.

It is engaging and exciting and full of a bunch of cool stuff.

 

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