In an effort to relieve the suffering of surgery patients, Dr. Thomas Bolton painstakingly develops an opium-based anesthetic, to which he gradually becomes addicted. In order to provide a continual supply of chemicals to continue his experiments and support his addiction, he falls in with a den of murderers who use his signature to sell cadavers to the local hospital. Written by
Doug Sederberg <email@example.com>
This finely-crafted minimalist film stars two of the most legendary horror stars of all time, yet it is without any supernatural elements. I suppose it is classified as horror because it is steeped in the creepy atmosphere of a 19th century operating theater and clinic for the poor, and because Christopher Lee plays a serial killer.
Into the final decade of his career and life, Boris Karloff gives a typically excellent performance of a good and compassionate man who defies the conventional wisdom of his time, such wisdom being the belief that since god intended humans to suffer to administer pain-killing drugs for surgery is to defy god's will.
The creepy, claustrophobic, impoverished world of this film is an appropriate setting for the business of a horror film, as well as a peak into the vast inequities between the upper and lower strata of society. Karloff is an upper-class doctor who once a week operates a free clinic for the poor.
While being thoroughly satisfying as a psychological horror film in its own right, this picture also provides a realistic portrayal of drug addiction and other issues of social relevancy.
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