6.3/10
759
33 user 23 critic

The Devil Commands (1941)

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

Director:

Edward Dmytryk

Writers:

Robert Hardy Andrews (screenplay) (as Robert D. Andrews), Milton Gunzburg (screenplay)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crime | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When Dr. Savaard's experiment in cryonics is interrupted by the short-sighted authorities, his volunteer dies, and he is condemned to death. He vows vengeance if he can survive his own hanging.

Director: Nick Grinde
Stars: Boris Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox
Mystery | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A medical researcher visits the deserted home of a pioneer in cryogenic science who disappeared 10 years earlier and finds him frozen in ice but still alive.

Director: Nick Grinde
Stars: Boris Karloff, Roger Pryor, Jo Ann Sayers
Before I Hang (1940)
Crime | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A physician on death row for a mercy killing is allowed to experiment on a serum using a criminals' blood, but secretly tests it on himself. He gets a pardon, but finds out he's become a Jekyll-&-Hyde.

Director: Nick Grinde
Stars: Boris Karloff, Evelyn Keyes, Bruce Bennett
Crime | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Ignoring an ancient prophecy, evil brother Gregor seeks to maintain his feudal power on his his Tyrolean estate by murdering and impersonating his benevolent younger twin.

Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

A young divorcee tries to convert a historic house into a hotel despite its oddball inhabitants and dead bodies in the cellar.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Maxie Rosenbloom
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Man investigates the disappearance of two of his friends who were the guests of a sinister Austrian count.

Director: Nathan Juran
Stars: Richard Greene, Boris Karloff, Stephen McNally
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King ... See full summary »

Director: Rowland V. Lee
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Barbara O'Neil
Horror | Sci-Fi | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A scientist becomes murderous after discovering, and being exposed to the radiation of, a powerful new element called Radium X.

Director: Lambert Hillyer
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Frances Drake
Black Friday (1940)
Crime | Drama | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Dr. Sovac transplants the brain of a gangster into his professor friend's body to save his life, but there is a side effect that causes a dangerous split personality.

Director: Arthur Lubin
Stars: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stanley Ridges
Film-Noir | Horror | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Noble-born cad Denis (Stapley) has been tricked into a forced stay at the eerie manor of the Sire de Maletroit (Laughton), an evil madman who can't get over the death of his beloved, twenty... See full summary »

Director: Joseph Pevney
Stars: Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest
Crime | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

After hapless pianist and ex-con John Elman is framed for murder, he is resurrected by a scientist after his execution.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Boris Karloff, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwenn
Night Key (1937)
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The inventor of a new top-of-the-line burglar alarm system is kidnapped by a gang in order to get him to help them commit robberies.

Director: Lloyd Corrigan
Stars: Boris Karloff, Warren Hull, Jean Rogers
Edit

Cast

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

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 February 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil Said No See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

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. Van Den: I know one thing, Julian - there are things human beings have no right to know!
See more »

Connections

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Karloff as tragic figure never fails to satisfy
30 October 2010 | by calvinnmeSee all my reviews

It is puzzling to me the uneven ratings that Karloff's films get. For example, the tiresome "The Ghoul" is rated almost the same as this film, though this is a much more satisfying horror film.

The films in which Karloff is the tragic figure lured into the world of the macabre by fate, such as in "The Walking Dead", are among the best that he made, and this is one of them. The first few minutes of the film take the time to show how great Karloff, as Dr. Julian Blair, had it prior to one fateful rainy night. He is head of the science department of a university, respected by his colleagues, and husband of over twenty years to a wonderful woman. However, a fatal car accident rips her from his side, and he is never the same again. His former experiments which were seeking a way to electronically read the minds of the living are now transformed into a possible means by which he may contact the dead, specifically his wife.

Unlike many horror films, this one explains how some of its rather clichéd ingredients appear - the isolated old dark house into which Blair moves to push toward finding a way to communicate with his dead wife, the harsh Mrs. Danvers-like woman that almost seems like a puppet-master to Blair, and finally an "Igor" like figure that acts as the mindless muscle to the doctor - all of these are explained as part of the plot.

This film has some great scenes for a production-code horror film in which one could only go so far. However, the "seance of the dead" scenes are unfairly forgotten ones in 40's horror, probably because this film was made by Columbia not Universal. Do note the presence of Kenneth MacDonald as the practical and kindly sheriff, as he often appeared as the heavy in Columbia's Three Stooges shorts, and this is a different kind of role for him.

Highly recommended for fans of old horror films and of Karloff.


4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 33 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed