Plot: Dr. Benson (Lionel Atwill) is a man driven to seek out the answers science might provide us, even if that means pushing ethical boundaries and working outside the letter of the law. His current experiments involve restoring life to the deceased, though in order to pursue this particular task, Benson has also been taking life and of course, that is a serious concern. Once his methods are revealed, Benson takes flight and heads to a remote tropical island, where he can continue his research without so many prying eyes involved. He is able to use his scientific prowess to impress the locals, who begin to think he can indeed bring the dead back to life, even though Benson has made little actual progress in that regard. As the natives grow restless and Benson is put under pressure to deliver, will his experiments finally work?
Entertainment Value: This mad scientist b movie might not be memorable, but it has a good cast and some fun moments, though the blend of sci/fi, horror, and humor is a little odd at times. The premise is fine, though one that was done quite often around this period and The Mad Doctor of Market Street does little to differentiate itself, as it follows the usual mad scientist formula for the most part. I think the movie is smart to keep a brisk pace and with a run time of barely an hour, this one doesn’t overstay its welcome in the least. You can drop in, have a short, but enjoyable mad scientist adventure and barely miss the time that has passed. The main draw winds up as the cast and some of the humor works, though often for unintended reasons, but that is all part of the fun with these hokey b movies. No one will mistake this for one of Universal’s classic horror pictures made in the same time frame, but I think there is b movie appeal here and genre fans might have some laughs.
The cast of The Mad Doctor of Market Street is tuned into the silliness that creeps in, which leads to some over the top, sometimes even slapstick performances. Lionel Atwill is our resident maniacal scientist and he takes a more traditional approach, giving his character a darker side and even some menace. He turns up the madness a little, as you’d expect from this kind of scene chewing role, but he feels out of place when his costars are playing for laughs rather than chills. I suppose this dialed up lunatic in the middle of a more or less comedy is humorous, but it is a weird composition and while Atwill’s work here is passable, it comes off as strange in the overall dynamic of what the movie presents. The rest of the cast is fun to watch, if just because of how zany the material can be at times. I wouldn’t call the efforts all that good or even memorable, but there is some real camp value to some of the performances. The cast also includes Anne Nagel, Una Merkel, and Claire Dodd.
The Disc: This movie was released on Blu-ray as part of Scream Factory’s Universal Horror Collection: Volume 2. The movie looks fantastic in this treatment, with a clean print that looks super refined, allowing the black & white visuals to shine and retain the natural texture. The image shows remarkable detail and depth, with even fine detail in strong presence here, so this is easily the best The Mad Doctor of Market Street has looked on home video. As for extras, all we have are some still photos.