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The Devil Commands (1941)

Approved | | Horror, Sci-Fi | 3 February 1941 (USA)
Scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of communicating with his dead wife.

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Writers:

(screenplay) (as Robert D. Andrews), (screenplay)
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Cast

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

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 (duke1029@aol.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

KARLOFF TURNS KILLER IN A HORROR-CRAMMED THRILLER! (original 11x14 title card) See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 February 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Devil Said No  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Part of the SON OF SHOCK package of 20 titles released to television in 1958, which followed the original Shock Theater release of 52 features one year earlier. This was also one of the 11 Columbia titles, the other 61 all being Universals. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

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

Connections

Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Mad Doctors (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Creepy tale has lots of atmosphere but silly plot...
4 September 2007 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

BORIS KARLOFF is a scientist who wants to communicate with the brain waves of his dead wife. His daughter narrates the tale and concludes with: "It is dangerous to communicate with the dead." That's about the impression the viewer gets after seeing what happens in the course of a brisk one hour and six minutes.

Columbia produced this low-budget feature and gave the directing chores to Edward Dmytryk, who would later go on to bigger and better things at RKO. But it's an efficient thriller thanks to his direction and the low-key, shadowy photography that makes the absurd story at least come to life on occasion.

Enjoyable too are the performances of ANN REVERE as a sinister housekeeper who knows all about Karloff's experiments and what goes on behind the locked doors of his laboratory; DOROTHY ADAMS as an inquisitive servant who agrees to check out the lab and gets locked inside; and KENNETH MacDONALD as the Sheriff determined to find out who is responsible for all the missing bodies from the graveyard.

It's typical Karloff stuff and he lends his commanding presence to the role with more dignity than it deserves. If it emerges as a better than average horror vehicle, it's because director Dmytryk is at the helm, but the script is absurd. The low-budget production values are neatly hidden by all the shadowy photography.


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