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Dr. Otto and the Riddle of the Gloom Beam Reviews

Varney, a rubber-faced comedian from down south, achieved national prominence in a series of television advertisements with an annoying character named Ernest. Undoubtedly his film debut in DR. OTTO AND THE RIDDLE OF THE GLOOM BEAM will come as a surprise to many. While by no means an exercise in sparkling wit, the film contains a few moments that might get a rise from comedy fans. Among other characters, Varney plays a mad scientist who plots to take over the world. Mueller sets out with his long-suffering assistant Welch to find out just who is behind the evil goings-on. Back in his laboratory, Dr. Otto sets out to stop his foe. Using a machine that can alter his appearance, he alternately adopts the guises of an Australian mercenary and a pirate, in an effort to trap the handsome hero. The format of a science fiction parody actually suits Varney, who shows some good comic ability within his multiple characterizations. The production design is imaginative, and the special effects look good, belying the film's obvious low budget. Still, this is a far-from-perfect comedy. While the lampooning clearly has some thought behind it, some ideas are never developed beyond their initial gag value.