4D Man (1959) Directed by Irvin Shortess Yeaworth Jr. and co-produced by Jack H Harris. Screenplay by Cy Chermak. Starring Robert Lansing, Lee Meriwether, James Congdon, Robert Strauss, and a very young Patty Duke. Earlier on Yeaworth and Harris had collaborated on The Blob(1958). The film has elements of the fantastical vivid coloring used in The Blob that gives this film a very comic book tonality. Actually, Jack Harris had promised the lead to Steve McQueen originally, but Harris thought he was such a pain in the ass from his experience with the actor on The Blob, that he didn’t want to work with him again.
Just for the sake of taking me back to Saturday morning schlocktalcular 50s and 60s mad scientist/science gone awry films that entertained me all through those golden afternoons. I offer yet another guilty pleasure film. The 4D Man.
This little multi-dimensional flick also goes by the name Master of Terror and The Evil Force but I’ve always enjoyed it as the 4D guy who can walk through walls and whenever he touches someone, it drains their life force and they age to dust in seconds.
Yeaworth directed this film with a very frenetic energy. It’s actually a very interesting concept if you consider the power to walk through walls could open up oodles of possibilities if used in the right hands of course.
Robert Lansing is scientist Scott Nelson, and his younger brother Tony played by James Congdon, develops a method of penetrating solid matter.
After he blows up the lab where he’s been experimenting with his theories, he goes to big brother for help. Scott helps Tony by procuring an electric motor that activates brain waves causing the forces of mind over matter to truly break through any barrier. Jack Harris‘ production is very slick while Lansing is literally charged with rays from the fourth dimension.
Unfortunately with all stories about the dangers of delving into areas that perhaps shouldn’t be explored hastily, this process winds up using up Scott’s life force and causes him to age rapidly as well as triggers a maniacal strain of homicidal self-preservation, greed all mixed with a little god complex for good measure.
He starts to feed off other people’s life force and ultimately kills them with his touch. Scott is engaged to Lee Meriwether who eventually convinces him to temporarily stop using his power long enough for them to shoot him.
Chic James is the prostitute who withers away as Scott robs her life force.
A similar film of interest is The Projected Man (1966)
Special Note: Jack Harris came up with the idea for a 4D man over lunch while reading a pamphlet on the fourth dimension and the molecular structure of two foreign pieces of matter. The idea is that these molecules could be allowed to interconnect. So if you could put a pencil through a slab of metal,
like in the film, why couldn’t a person walk through a wall? Walking through walls is a novel idea, but he needed to inject the feeling of menace into the plot. That’s when they decided that Lansing’s character would rapidly age and need to regenerate his life force.