Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travellers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife's fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison's life. Written by
Sister Grimm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
While working on this film, director Edgar G. Ulmer began an affair with Shirley Castle, who would eventually become his wife, known as Shirley Ulmer. At the time, however, Castle was married to Max Alexander, a producer at Universal Pictures and a nephew of powerful Universal chief Carl Laemmle, who did not look kindly on "outsiders" upsetting his family. Castle left her husband for Ulmer, and the ensuing scandal resulted in Ulmer being blackballed from all of the major Hollywood studios for the rest of his career. After a short period of directing micro-budgeted independent films, Ulmer went to work for the low-budget studio Producers Releasing Corp. (PRC), where he stayed for most of the rest of his career. See more »
When Werdegast and Poelzig are fighting near the end of the film, Poelzig is on top of Werdegast, choking him. Werdegast then turns the tables and ends up on top of Poelzig. After Thamal (Werdegast's servant) enters the room, Poelzig is suddenly on top of Werdegast, and is choking him again. See more »
[looking over Joan's passport]
Mr. and Mrs. Alison, Car 96, Compartment F. Orient Express, Budapest, Visegrad.
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The best of the collaborations between Karloff & Lugosi. The production values are high and Karloff's makeup is excellent. There is a lot going on it the script-- perhaps too much, as the script is a bit confusing and sometimes pointless. But the atmosphere is thick and the "aura" hangs over the movie like a dense mist. There is more horror implied than actually seen. This movie has black magic, a man skinned alive, treachery, phobia, and a chess game with lives at stake. Mostly, it has great performances by Karloff and Lugosi in their one and only film appearance as equals (without one dominating the other). Truly, this is one of the finest Universal horror classics and will deliver everything a fan of such fare could possibly want.
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