In New York city, Ruth Rogan is convicted of killing 3 of her lovers and sentenced to be executed. Meanwhile, lovely Roma Courtenay becomes a millionaire heiress when her brother dies. A spiritualist approaches Roma with an urgent message from her dead brother. He runs a rigged seance that doesn't convince Roma's boyfriend Grant but has Roma confused. Then unexpectedly, the executed Ruth Rogan's spirit takes control of Roma's body. Roma runs off with the fake spiritualist under Ruth Rogan's control. Grant desperately tries to track Roma down and return her soul. Written by
Gary Jackson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Throughout the film, "Rogen" is pronounced like Rowjin with the accent on the first syllable. See more »
The headline on Bavian's newspaper is different in the close-up. See more »
Tell me, doctor, was she really crazy?
Dr. Carl Houston:
Grant, I believe she was quite sane but undoubtedly one of the most dangerous women in criminal history,
Well, she's not dangerous any more.
Dr. Carl Houston:
No, she may be more dangerous now than when they had her locked in a cell.
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Having independently made one of the most unusual horror films up to that time in WHITE ZOMBIE (1932), the Halperin Brothers were given the opportunity to duplicate its success on a bigger budget, relatively speaking by a major studio, Paramount. Alas, the result wasn't as good and, in fact, SUPERNATURAL emerged as a lesser addition to the studio's brief output in the genre during its Pre-Code heyday! Despite a nice opening montage sequence depicting the exploits of the murderess (Vivienne Osborne), it takes a while to get going: Carole Lombard only appears 15 minutes into the movie, and the possession plot only really comes into play during the last 15 (interestingly, the 'transference of souls at the moment of death' gimmick was also featured in EXORCIST III  though it's unlikely this element was derived from the film in question). That said, I enjoyed SUPERNATURAL a good deal and there are some undeniably stylish sequences throughout.
Still, one might say that luscious Lombard's virtually the whole show here, though she isn't totally comfortable in her role. Randolph Scott and H.B. Warner lend solid if unexceptional support but the villainous character of the spiritualist (Allan Dinehart) isn't particularly well-developed, while Beryl Mercer offers the obligatory comic relief as the latter's tipsy landlady (who isn't above spying on and eventually blackmail her boarders!).
For all that, the latter stages of the film involving the séance (highlighted by the 'apparitions' of Lombard's dead twin brother and various other tricks perpetrated by Dinehart to milk his gullible clients) and Lombard's possession (particularly the nice close-ups of her lit eyes) are reasonably effective. All in all, while I wasn't excessively let down by it, I can only see SUPERNATURAL (I wouldn't mind having it on an official DVD from Universal, either, perhaps as part of a horror collection?) improving with further viewings, and I would certainly like to catch up with the Halperin Brothers' subsequent horror outings REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES (1936) and TORTURE SHIP (1939) even if their reputation is nowhere near as assured as this one's is, let alone WHITE ZOMBIE
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