A wealthy judge coaxes the brilliant but eccentric neurological surgeon Dr. Vollin (Lugosi), who also has an obsessive penchant for Edgar Allen Poe, out of retirement to save the life of his daughter, a dancer crippled and brain damaged in an auto wreck. Vollin restores her completely, but also envisions her as his "Lenore," and cooks up a scheme to kidnap the woman and torture and kill her fiance' and father in his Poe-inspired dungeon. To do his dirty work, Vollin recruits a wanted criminal (Karloff), and turns him into a hideous monster to guarantee his subservience. Written by
Kevin Rayburn <kprayb01@homer.Louisville.edu>
Karloff gets the top billing in this second feature pairing both horror stars, but it is Bela Lugosi all the way who steals each and every scene he is in. Lugosi is incredible in his over-the-top performance of a morbid, obsessed doctor and Poe aficionado. Each line he utters with flair and gusto, each movement an outrageous, maniacal gesture. He is truly a ham, and an enjoyable one at that. Karloff is quite good as a killer, and the only compassionate character in the story. He is disfigured by Lugosi, so he will kill for the mad doctor. One of the best scenes is Lugosi leaving his patient to see his handiwork. Karloff shoots through several mirrors after realizing the atrocities committed on him, and from a door in the roof of the room.....Lugosi peers through and laughs...laughs with coldness, cruelty, and hysteria. The rest of the film is devoted to Lugosi utilizing his Poe recreations of torture...and I must confess as an earlier reviewer noted that you really feel little sympathy for the other characters involved...and at one point I wanted the pendulum to win. You must see this film as it is the second best of the Karloff/Lugosi pairings...but it really is a Lugosi film.
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