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The Devil Commands (1941)

Approved  |   |  Horror, Sci-Fi  |  3 February 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 580 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 16 critic

Scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife.



(screenplay) (as Robert D. Andrews) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Devil Commands (1941)

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Complete credited cast:
Richard Fiske ...
Dr. Richard Sayles
Amanda Duff ...
Anne Blair
Mrs. Blanche Walters
Cy Schindell ...
Karl (as Ralph Penney)
Mrs. Marcy
Walter Baldwin ...
Seth Marcy
Kenneth MacDonald ...
Sheriff Ed Willis
Shirley Warde ...
Helen Blair


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. Written by Gabe Taverney (

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


This mad wizard kills at will in Satan's service! See more »


Horror | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 February 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil Said No  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Cy Schindell plays the role of Julian's hulking manservant Karl. He often used the name Al Seymour, but here is billed under the name Ralph Penney, for the only time in his career. See more »


Dr. Julian tells Mrs. Walters she had 10,000 volts pass through her body. Volts do not flow or pass, amps do. See more »


Dr. Julian Blair: Anne dear, your mother is not dead, not really. She's come back to me!
See more »


Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Ridiculous but Karloff saves it
8 September 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Kindly Dr. Revere (Boris Karloff) has found a way to record the brain waves of people. His loving wife is tragically killed in a car accident. Revere however gets a reading from his dead wife (he thinks) when alone in is lab. He becomes obsessed with trying to communicate with her beyond the grave. He ends up with a cruel conniving fake medium (Anne Revere) and some corpses borrowed from the nearby cemetery.

OK--the plot doesn't make a lick of sense. He does turn on the machine after his wife dies and he DOES get a message--but how can he know it's her? Why does he need to use other dead bodies to communicate with his wife? Why not dig up HER body and try it? Too many questions. The sets are threadbare (looks more like a PRC production than Columbia), talented character actress Revere gives out her worse performance, the silly narration doesn't work and it just completely derails at the end. Still Karloff is good (as always) and gives this junk a better performance than it deserves. He single handedly makes this an OK movie. It just isn't that scary. It does have a somewhat spooky scene where a maid is stuck in a room with a bunch of dead bodies but that's it. Minor but a must for Karloff fans.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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