Primal Scream Recap

Experimental biologist Dr. Jules Copenik returns to his lab at Oceanic International Oil after a month-long absence. He hears noises from behind a heavy freezer door and when he opens the door to check, a hairy humanoid bursts out of the room and quickly overpowers the doctor.

Corporate security discovers the body the next morning at 5:45; Carl hears about it on his police radio around 7:00 a.m. and heads to the scene. Police captain Maurice Molnar isn’t forthcoming but Carl is able to learn (by flipping back the blanket over the body) that Copenik was badly beaten and partially dismembered. Molnar grudgingly admits that the police don’t know where Copenik’s missing arm is – presumably the killer took it. Beyond that the police don’t offer much.

Carl checks inside the refrigerator next, taking photos of the inside, including several of an open and empty metal container. Carl realizes that this particular freezer is no longer cold.

Oceanic International Oil gives Carl the runaround for a while, sending his calls to and fro within the company, before finally referring him to Vice President of Public Relations Thomas Kitzmiller. Kitzmiller tells Carl a little bit about Dr. Copenik’s work. It seems Oceanic International Oil has a project in the very cold north. They drill core samples of the ice and analyze them for markers suggesting the presence of oil, but also allow Dr. Copenik to investigate biological findings in such cores. Kitzmiller doesn’t believe Copenik’s death is the result of crackpots opposed to his research. And his section of the company consists of himself and only one other employee with whom he gets along. That employee, Helen Lynch, has been hospitalized for several weeks following a car accident. In short, there seems to be no reason for his death.

Carl returns to INS and tells Tony about the death of Copenik. Tony fills in details…Carl has been scooped by several other news services and Tony’s not happy about it. But Carl has been pursuing another line of investigation with Ron Updyke’s help. Ron calls around and locates the hospital where Helen Lynch is presently confined – Mount Olivet. Carl heads there with Tony’s acerbic wit following him out the door.

Lynch’s doctor freezes Carl out--it seems OIO has decided Ms. Lynch shouldn’t speak to reporters and when they talk, folks listen. But Carl helpfully escorts another visitor to her patient behind a large plant that gets him past the doctor and into Helen Lynch’s room. Helen also sees no reason for murder. However, she does reveal an interesting fact--the core samples under study by the biological group at OIO contained very old cells that “came to life” when thawed out. The cells began to reproduce. About this time the doctor discovers Carl’s subterfuge and has two large orderlies “escort” him from the room.

That night, photographer Robert Gurney returns home after working. As he watches a monster movie on the television, a shadow passes in front of the window. Seconds later, a humanoid bursts through the window and overpowers him.

Carl’s junket to see Helen Lynch forces Tony to send in the “second string”--Ron Updyke. Ron has learned that the police shot Gurney’s assailant and took him (it?) away. Carl’s questions get some strange answers until finally the policeman reveals that the killer was a gorilla or some other large ape. But Carl finds Gurney’s landlady in a nearby apartment and she says the killer was humanoid but most definitely not an ape--she’s seen apes on the “Marlin Perkins show” and knows what they look like. She tells Carl the creature was more “man-like” than an ape.

Carl has enough to confront Mr. Kitzmiller again but strikes out at his office. But on the way out of OIO Carl gets lucky. A number of scientists have arrived to examine the scene of Copenik’s murder and Carl tailgates in behind them. Someone has again broken the window to the lab; Captain Molnar orders it repaired a second time. Inside the freezer Carl sees that a second metal canister lies open on the floor.

William Pratt, driver for V. Morrison & Sons Fine Meats, is unloading a delivery a little later that evening. A humanoid leaps into the back of the truck and hurls Pratt out and through a nearby window. Carl arrives in time to be shoved rudely aside by the fleeing humanoid. He does manage a photograph of the creature as it passes. He overhears Molnar talking to animal control officers: Molnar isn’t happy that these men couldn’t tranquilize the creature and is skeptical of their view that tranquilizing animals isn’t an exact science. Carl talks to them a moment later and learns that they used six tranquilizer darts without slowing the creature. Molnar approaches and “accidentally” knock Carl’s camera strap from his shoulder. When Carl bends to retrieve the instrument Molnar “accidentally” crushes it with his foot.

Back at police headquarters Carl expresses outrage over the fate of his camera; Molnar suggests he submit a voucher for its replacement--but of course that won’t bring back the destroyed pictures. Finally Molnar enters a lab and Carl can’t follow him in. But Molnar’s office is just across the hall…

Inside Molnar’s office, Carl rifles files and recovers some pictures the police took. He leaves the office without discovery but backs into Molnar on the way out. Thinking quickly he tells Molnar he was in the office to drop off the voucher. Molnar pats him down anyway but does not discover the photo that Carl has folded down to a small size. Grudgingly, Molnar allows Carl to leave and returns to his office. Inside he discovers that Carl has indeed left a voucher – it goes in the trash.

At Mount Olivet, Kitzmiller and several experts speak with Helen Lynch. Carl disguises himself as a patient and manages to listen in. He overhears Lynch repeat her story that the cells began to grow and multiply when thawed. But she dismisses the possibility that they cells grew into monsters, claiming they were only single-celled creatures.

Carl has a story now--a story that impresses even Tony. And he has a picture to go with it. Out on the wire and…the home office in New York kills it. Evidently Oceanic International Oil has more pull than the truth.

The next night brings another attack when Rosetta Mason leaves a party early. En route to her house, a humanoid lunges from a nearby alley and overpowers her. Carl manages to get a photograph of a footprint. Stonewalled by the large universities (who are underwritten in part by Oceanic International Oil), Carl finds public school teacher Jack Burton a little more receptive. Burton says the toes are wrong for an ape, but the heel and arch structure is wrong for a man. Using a cast-model skull, he shows Carl how apes’ jaws evolved for a vegetarian diet. The owner of the footprint has a decidedly carnivorous diet. Burton also doubts that science could get frozen cells to grow into anything complex but allows that 4,000 year old wheat seeds recovered from a pyramid were recently induced to germinate. Still, there’s a vast difference between wheat and animals…

Carl decides to revisit Copenik’s lab one more time. The boarded window yields to a little persuasion after the front way in proves impossible. The freezer appears much as it did on the previous visits except… the metal canisters are gone. On a nearby table is a similar canister containing an embryo. Carl snaps a few shots. If an embryo can develop then what else might?

Following Burton’s suggestion that “a deviant cousin of early man” might seek a cavelike environment, Carl goes into the tunnels that once honeycombed the old Chicago Stadium, site of nuclear experiments in the 1940s. The stadium was removed but the tunnels remain. Carl enters hoping to get pictures of an adult humanoid, lighting the way with road flares. Soon enough their lurid glow reveals Rosetta Mason’s body--and a humanoid lurking nearby. It approaches and Carl tries talking to it. His speech calms it although it clearly doesn’t fully understand. Then from nearby comes a noise and the creature attacks Carl, throwing him to the ground. The police have put the same facts together and enter in force; Carl’s vision grows hazy and then dim…

Once again, Molnar has taken the evidence. Carl is now out two cameras and has only his memories. Not enough to file a story. But he knows that in a research lab somewhere, scientists will study the humanoid that grew from the arctic cells. And he can’t help but wonder how that will turn out…

Written by Gadfly on Feb 20, 2017