The Dead Talk Back is a 1957 film that for some reason languished on a shelf before finally being released on home video in 1993. From there, it got picked up by Mystery Science Theater 3000, where it aired in 1994.
The story concerns a rather bizarre opening monologue by Dr. Krasker (Aldo Farnese), a psychic researcher who purports to have a method of speaking with the dead. This opening is quickly shelved as we transition to the rooming house Krasker lives in, where a new narrator essentially counts down to the death of a woman. Once the police exhaust the conventional methods of finding out who the killer is, they bring in Krasker to help out and hopefully finger the murderer.
Of course, along the way we meet a bunch of rather... odd characters.
The Dead Talk Back contains the following tropes:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Frits Kreuger.
- Artistic License Law: The murderer's confession would not hold up in a court of law. Heck, if Patini were the murderer, the fact he was kept there against his will would also be illegal and ruled coerced into a confession.
- Batman Gambit: How the real murderer is exposed.
- BGM: Apparently, the film had a very limited music budget, as the same stock music piece is repeated tons of times in the last half hour.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Subverted, as the methods talked about in the opening narration never figure in the solving of the case.
- Played straight with the "Buried Alive" alarm though.
- They don't bring anyone back from the dead but convincing the audience has the effect of making them believe right along with most of the cast that Dr Krasker is actually going to do this at the end and sells it as an effective bluff on the murderer, which makes for a decent twist and with a bit of Mind Screw thrown in.
- The Fundamentalist: Surprisingly for something made in The Hays Code era, one of the characters is a religious nutjob who's portrayed in a wholly negative light, or at least in a batshit crazy light.note
- Funny Foreigner: Frits Kreuger.
- Large Ham: Krasker. As one review noted, he's "a criminologist who may not be a Mad Scientist but is at least a Ham Scientist." It's a Justified Trope, though, as even the narrator notes he's "a bit of a showman".
- Never Trust a Title: Ultimately, the dead never talk back (and wouldn't it have been The Dead Talks Back, singular, since it was only going to be Renee?).
- Playing Gertrude: Aldo Farnese was only about twenty-one when he made this movie. They made him look older by graying his temples. Badly.Servo: He went a little crazy with the Frost-N-Streak kit, didn't he?
- Rape as Backstory: Ludwig molested a young woman (girl?) in the past.
- Red Herring: Macklin and Kreuger as the killer.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: It's clear at the end that Dr Krasker was bluffing all the subjects. He sells it very well.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: In-story — a police detective interrogating Kruger takes a moment to cock the crossbow used for the murder and fire it (empty) in front of the suspect's face.(crossbow fires)
Crow: (sound of bolt hitting something)
Mike: (as detective) Sorry, Steve.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The German guy is "Frits Kreuger", not Fritz Krueger. His full name is Alfred Ludwig Kreuger.
- Technobabble: Dr. Kraskers explanation about contacting the dead is full of this.
- Tonight, Someone Dies: Exaggerated. The narrator repeatedly goes on at considerable length about how the victim is about to be murdered. By the time the wicked deed is done, there is zero suspense left for the audience to savor.note