One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
I read somewhere that this was like a Friday the 13th film for the 1930s - that may be an understatement. After the first half hour, it's murder the rest of the way! Yippee!! And not to spoil anything, the villains' comeuppance is not enough in my opinion. If anyone ever deserved it, he should have been quartered with each quarter being sent to the four corners of the earth and then quartered again.
John Halliday plays a completely 100% monstrous man named Max, who for no explained reason becomes one of the great serial killers in history. People get shot, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, frozen to death, bludgeoned and much, much more for all you death fans out there. This is all supposed to occur because he was supposed to be indicted for grand larceny?? At least Lugosi would have fun doing this!! Halliday is a robot, endlessly repeating, "Oh, what a tragedy" in a mild feign surprise after each death.
The real downer of this film may actually be that there is no life to these people before he kills them. All that really happens is Halliday killing people with no conscience whatsoever. The copy I saw was not very clear, but I imagine the cinematography was quite good. There are some terrific silhouette shots, meaningful camera moves and some disturbing shots of death. The plot is an excellent idea, particularly with the "Mary Celeste" ghost ship, and it's 'Beau Geste'-like opening sequence. This is definitely the grimmest 30s horror movie - Charlie Ruggles' comic relief is actually welcome!!! 5/10
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