Monday, October 3, 2011

The Devil Commands (1941)

Director: Edward Dmytryk

Starring: Boris Karloff, Richard Fiske, Amanda Duff, Ann Revere, Cy Schindell, Dorothy Adams, Walter Baldwin

More info: IMDb

Tagline: This mad wizard kills at will in Satan's service!

Plot: Dr. Julian Blair is engaged in unconventional research on human brain waves when his wife is tragically killed in a freak auto accident. The grief-stricken scientist becomes obsessed with redirecting his work into making contact with the dead and is not deterred by dire warnings from his daughter, his research assistant, or his colleagues that he is delving into forbidden areas of knowledge. He moves his laboratory to an isolated New England mansion where he continues to try to reach out to his dead wife. He is aided by his mentally-challenged servant Karl and abetted by the obsessive Mrs. Walters, a phony medium, who seems to exert a sinister influence over him. When their overly curious housekeeper discovers the truth about their experiments, her death brings the local sheriff in to investigate.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

Here's another one of those hour-long horror programmer B-pictures that doesn't fulfill. Karloff is fun until he meets Mrs. Walters (Revere), a so-called psychic. After that he's mush since she basically controls him as if by a spell. Their first scene together is great, though, as he attends one of her seances. After it's over Karloff explains to his friend, Karl, that it's all a hoax and proceeds to show him the evidence. THAT was cool. He was a straight forward, skeptic badass until he suddenly speculates that she may have the 'gift' after all. Whatever. That's when it lost me but it's also when the movie started to go south. That is, until the end...

The last ten minutes has the shit hitting the fan as Karloff races against time to finally test his experiment using his own daughter before the coppers show up. That was fun but getting to it was a chore. Except for the cool imagery that looks like something right out of a great matinee serial, everything else was sort of ho-hum. I'll never pass up a chance to see a Karloff movie I haven't seen but this is one that I won't need to see again.

No comments:

Post a Comment