Public Domain Theater: The Phantom Creeps (& “The Bulleteers”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

This month, we’re going super-schlocky for you folks. Given we’ve already featured flicks about giant monsters wrestling each other and kung-fu chicks dishing out ultra-violence, what makes this picture so special? Well, how about Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist repeatedly trying to conquer the world with death rays and robots and invisibility gadgets? Yes, we’re featuring none other than The Phantom Creeps!

(I can’t figure out if it’s meant to be “The Phantom (noun, singular) Creeps (verb)”, or “The Phantom (adjective) Creeps (noun, plural)”. Any thoughts?)

Originally a 12-part films serial, it was then edited down into a single feature length film. And let me tell you, taking a serial that runs for over four hours, and condensing that plot into a 78 minute film … things happen fast in this picture, just one wild incident after another. And that’s really the best way to enjoy this sort of story, ain’t it?

But while our feature presentation may be focused on Lugosi’s supervillainous Doctor Zorka, our opening cartoon adds a superhero to the mix. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, directed by the legendary Dave Fleischer, it’s Superman, battling the perfidious plots of “The Bulleteers”!

For all manner of wild and fantastical adventure, there’s no place like Public Domain Theater!

Opening Cartoon:

Feature Presentation: