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The Haunted Strangler (1958)
"Grip of the Strangler" (original title)

 -  Crime | Mystery | Horror  -  3 July 1958 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 775 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 23 critic

A researcher investigating a notorious serial killer who was hanged 20 years earlier seemingly becomes possessed by the long dead strangler.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Rankin
Jean Kent ...
Cora Seth
Elizabeth Allan ...
Barbara Rankin
Supt. Burk
Vera Day ...
Tim Turner ...
Dr. Kenneth McColl
Diane Aubrey ...
Lily Rankin
Max Brimmell ...
Newgate Prison Turnkey
Leslie Perrins ...
Newgate Prison Governor
Jessica Cairns ...
Asylum Maid
Dorothy Gordon ...
Desmond Roberts ...
Dr. Johnson
Roy Russell ...
Medical Superintendent
Derek Birch ...
Guyse Hospital Superintendent
Peggy Ann Clifford ...


A writer investigating the execution of a serial killer known as "The Haymarket Strangler" 20 years previously begins to suspect that the wrong man might have been hanged. However, when he picks up a scalpel used by the murderer, he finds himself possessed by the killer's spirit and begins committing similar murders. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Their wild beauty marked them for death by . . . The Haunted Strangler See more »


Crime | Mystery | Horror


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 July 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Haunted Strangler  »

Box Office


£70,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


While director Robert Day and the make-up man were discussing how to achieve Boris Karloff's metamorphosis without undue complication or expense, the actor volunteered that he could achieve the effect by taking out his dentures. See more »


One scene shows an evidence box from the Jack the Ripper case but the Haymarket Strangler that starts the movie took place in 1860 and the rest of the movie is 20 years later(1880). The Ripper killings were in 1888, 8 years after the movie takes place. See more »


James Rankin: You mean he killed while in some sort of trance?
See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Horror: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

THE HAUNTED STRANGLER (Robert Day, 1958) ***
20 March 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Having been - as was the case with THE TIN DRUM (1979) - the one to 'announce' several years ago the re-release on DVD of 4 Richard/Alex Gordon productions through Criterion on another online Forum (after writing to Image Entertainment to see if their bare-bones OOP editions were going to be re-issued), this set has been a long time coming indeed! As some of you may know, I'd never watched this one prior to purchasing the expensive "Monsters And Madmen" set - or, for that matter, its follow-up CORRIDORS OF BLOOD (1958); however, I knew enough of their reputation as two of Boris Karloff's best latter-day films to make me spring for them regardless.

To be honest, as I lay watching THE HAUNTED STRANGLER, I was somewhat let down by it and my heart actually sank when, in the Audio Commentary, both Richard Gordon and Tom Weaver opine that they prefer this one over CORRIDORS OF BLOOD! Still, going through the film twice in a matter of hours can sometimes work wonders: at first glance, it's a handsome-looking yet rather lurid film - reveling in the permissiveness of the time to include as many (often gratuitous) instances of sleaze and sadism as it possibly could; in that respect, it's similar to THE FLESH AND THE FIENDS (1959) - incidentally, another well-regarded title I had long wanted to watch and been underwhelmed by on a preliminary viewing.

The film actually precedes Hammer's DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971) in that it mingles the Stevenson perennial with the equally popular exploits of Jack The Ripper; to these it attaches a thriller angle by having Karloff act as a detective investigating an old series of murders, ostensibly to prove a miscarriage of justice, but whose repercussions are far worse - to say nothing of closer to home - than he could have imagined (itself an oft-used device as in, say, THE BIG CLOCK [1947])! While I knew of the twist from reading about the film beforehand (and which is actually revealed fairly early in the game), I feel that it doesn't quite work here because, for one thing, the star was simply too old for the role (though I'll readily admit that he entered with glee into its quite physical attributes, even coming up with the economical make-up design himself!) but also because the character's mental condition and its effect on his backstory is conveniently kept under wraps until the revelation (when it should, at least, bother him equally as much as wanting to prove the innocence of an anonymous and legally convicted serial-killer). Incidentally, though strangulation is involved in the crimes, the film's title is somewhat misleading because it's the scalpel which sets the 'monster' off and, for this reason, the U.S. moniker is rather more accurate!

Anyway, one of the film's major assets is surely Lionel Banes' black-and-white cinematography; the second half of the narrative, then, creates reasonable suspense and excitement with the scenes involving the rampaging 'monster' and his ultimate identity crisis. In the end, I wouldn't really classify THE HAUNTED STRANGLER as one of the star's very best vehicles - but it's undoubtedly among the more satisfying from his later work that I've watched (along with THE RAVEN [1963] and TARGETS [1968]).

The DVD supplements are very adequate: the Audio Commentary featuring genre authority Tom Weaver and the film's producer Richard Gordon (with interjections from his late brother/partner Alex) is especially interesting - apart from the privilege of having Weaver and the two Gordons name their 3 favorite Karloff pictures, amongst many other things I learned that Boris once almost worked with Edward D. Wood Jr. (and Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. to boot) on the project which eventually became BRIDE OF THE MONSTER (1955)!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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