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The Phantom Creeps is a 1939 serial about a mad scientist who attempts to rule the world by creating various elaborate inventions. In a dramatic fashion, foreign agents and G-Men try to seize the inventions for themselves.

It was the 112th serial released by Universal Pictures and the 44th to have sound. The serial stars Béla Lugosi as the villainous Doctor Zorka with Dorothy Arnold and Robert Kent.

It was adapted in DC's Movie Comics #6, cover date September-October 1939, the final issue of that title.

The first three episodes of The Phantom Creeps were lampooned during the second season of the TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000.




Stock footage was used from The Invisible Ray, including scenes of Dr Zorka finding the meteorite in Africa. The music came from the Frankenstein films. The Phantom Creeps' car chase was itself used as stock footage in later serials. Newsreel shots of the Hindenburg disastermarker were used as part of Dr Zorka's final spree of destruction after his robot, which is supposed to destroy the human race, is stopped by a single shot seconds after being unleashed.

The Torontomarker band United State also used footage for their music video "Automaton" in 1984.

Universal tried to improve serials by eliminating the written foreword at the start of each chapter. This led to The Phantom Creeps being the first serial in which the studio used vertically scrolling text as the foreword.


The innovation of the scrolling text version of the synopsis at the beginning of each chapter was used for the Star Wars films as the "Star Wars opening crawl".

Chapter titles

  1. The Menacing Power
  2. Death Stalks the Highways
  3. Crashing Towers
  4. Invisible Terror
  5. Thundering Rails
  6. The Iron Monster
  7. The Menacing Mist
  8. Trapped in the Flames
  9. Speeding Doom
  10. Phantom Footprints
  11. The Blast
  12. To Destroy the World

See also


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