The cloning of sheep in Scotland is the most recent example
of science's determination to do God's job for Him, and
moviegoers have always been fascinated by cloning and its
more terrifying aspects. Certainly Frankenstein is
literature's (and Hollywood's) best-known example of man
creating a being in his own image. Gustav Meyrink's 1916
novel Homunculus dealt with an artificial being,
and one notable pupil who duped himself was showcased in
the German silent classic The Student of Prague,
which featured Paul Wegener (The Golem). Up to and
including the Steven Spielberg multimega-smash Jurassic
Park, and its recent record-breaking sequel The Lost
World, the public predilection for doppelgangers has
been in evidence.
The influential granddaddy of sci-fi epics placed cloning
on display in a big way. To foment unrest among the populace,
crazed scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) perfects a
robotic duplicate of saintly Brigitte Helm in a Frankensteinish
precursor of every mad doc lab the movies would subsequently
unveil. The robot's dervish-like dancing stirs the passions,
political and otherwise, of every male within vamping distance.
The Saint's Double Trouble (1940)
Preeminent cinema cad George Sanders often expressed disdain
for the B films he appeared in throughout the early '40s.
Notwithstanding, he delivered breezy, convincing portrayals
as both The Saint and The Falcon, suave, sophisticated detectives
each featured in their own series of RKO programmers. In
this clever showcase for Leslie Charteris' detective, The
Saint, Sanders assumes a second role as The Dutchman, the
sleuth's criminal double. Close observers will spot the
dab of putty applied to Sanders' nose in order to give his
gangster impersonation a slightly more sinister edge.
This West German fantasy was actually the third lensing
of the classic German fable Alraune. Erich von Stroheim
is the doc off his rocker who collects the semen of a hanged
man (yuck!) for use in his artificial insemination experiments.
The resultant offspring is the strangely soulless Hildegarde
Neff. Is von Stroheim her father, her lover or both? I reiterate
Four Sided Triangle (1953)
British horrormeister Terence Fisher directed this early
Hammer yarn (or yawn) that features buxom Barbara Payton
as the object of rival scientists' affections. Perfecting
a duplicating machine, one of the lusting profs sees his
innovation as the solution to the trio's romantic problems.
Two Barbara Paytons does not a plausible film make.
The Manster (1959)
This gruesomely ludicrous Japanese shocker features an American
man, Larry Stanford, who is the unknowing victim of wacky
Dr. Suzuki's experimental enzyme injections. It isn't long
before Stanford strips off his shirt to find an eye sprouting
from his shoulder. Soon, a second head is crowding his collar.
Eventually, the guy simply splits in two and gets into a
heated fight with himself, hurling his hopping mad other
half into a convenient volcano.
The Human Duplicators (1964)
Without a doubt, the finest of the clone films. Just peruse
this list of players: Richard Kiel (Eegah!), Hugh
Beaumont (Leave It To Beaver), George Nader (Robot
Monster), Dolores Faith (The Phantom Planet),
George Macready, Richard Arlen, Barbara Nichols and a cast
of dozens. Alien Kiel pilots a dime store Christmas ornament
to Earth in order to force Dr. Macready into aiding him
in his cloning efforts. With such a stable of thespians
on hand, does plot really matter?
The Boys From Brazil (1978)
Based on Ira Levin's novel, this one spins the torrid tale
of little Hitlers being cloned across the globe. It's all
the work of Dr. Josef Mengele, portrayed by Gregory Peck
in a guttural, ranting, no-holds-barred performance. Laurence
Olivier is his opposite number, a Simon Wiesenthalish Nazi-hunter
who stalks the mad medico to his Paraguayan lair. Lengthy,
lurid and lots 'o fun.
And perhaps most terrifying of all ...
Kissin' Cousins (1964)
Skinflint mogul Sam Katzman produced this, perhaps Elvis'
least-renowned film. As an Air Force officer, the King seeks
to convince a passel of mountain moonshiners to allow the
installation of ICBMs on the back forty. Among his major
discoveries along the way are the existence of his look-alike
hillbilly cousin and the stunning effect the mountain air
has had on Yvonne Craig's lungs. Elvis, of course, had a
real-life twin who died at birth, compounding the film's
already notable weirdness.