Friday, October 31 at 7:00 p.m.
A Boris Karloff Double Feature for Halloween Night!
The Man they Could Not Hang (1939)
This is the first of five mad-doctor films Boris Karloff made for Columbia Pictures between 1939-1942. Dr. Henryk Saavard (Karloff) is a brilliant heart expert who has invented a device that can bring the recently dead back to life. While he is working on his first patient, the police, tipped off by the patient's girlfriend, bust in and refuse to allow him to bring the patient back to life. Convicted and hanged, the doctor's assistant claims his body and revives him. But the doctor isn't feeling like a humanitarian any more and plans a sweet revenge.... Way ahead of its time in predicting heart transplants and artificial hearts, the story may seem far-fetched, but was actually based on the real-life experiments of Dr. Robert Cornish who was reviving dead dogs in the 1930s. A well-paced film with an excellent performance by Boris Karloff. Click for pictures: A poster.
DIRECTED BY NICK GRINDE. 1939. 64 MINUTES. CAST: BORIS KARLOFF. LORNA GRAY. ROGER PRYOR.
The Devil Commands (1941) Fourth in the Columbia "mad scientist" series, this is a unique blend of science fiction and horror. Respected scientist Dr. Julian Blair (Boris Karloff), a pioneering researcher studying human brain waves, is on the verge of a major breakthrough. Grief-stricken when his wife is killed in an auto accident, Karloff becomes obsessed with using his elaborate brain wave machine to telepathically communicate with the dead. (If this sounds outlandish, remember that Thomas Edison was reportedly working on a "spirit phone" when he died.) Karloff is aided by a powerful, ultra-sinister mystic (Anne Revere in an intense performance, stealing nearly every scene). The magnificently deranged seance scene with bodies stolen from the cemetery arranged around a table is a highlight of the film. Edward Dmytryk's atmospheric direction foreshadows his later pioneering work in noir; he made the most of the tiny budget and short (two-week) shooting time. Most of the films in this series encapsulated a fear of technology running amok, the thought that "There are things that human beings have no right to know;" and Karloff's characteristic mix of menace and vulnerability is perfect for these roles. Of his characters Karloff said, "You must understand his point of view although you know he is mistaken. You must have sympathy for him although you know he is terribly wrong. Although you were pleased to see him destroyed you were sorry that it had happened." Click for pictures: Mad scientist Boris Karloff attempts to connect shady medium Anne Revere and her mediumistic powers to one of his subjects. Mystic/medium Anne Revere joins with mad scientist Boris Karloff in pursuit of his research. Boris Karloff.
DIRECTED BY EDWARD DMYTRYK. 1941. 65 MINUTES. CAST: BORIS KARLOFF. ANNE REVERE. AMANDA DUFF. RICHARD FISKE.
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