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>
Although the opening credits set the movie in 1840, Dr Bolton uses a Bunsen Burner in his laboratory, not invented until 1854-5. See more »
Mr. Bolton, the committee have decided against holding ant further demonstrations
Well, Charles, you've lost faith with me too?
The decision's for your own good.
You can't stop me. Operations without pain are possible, and I'll not rest until I've proved it to you!
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The UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to reduce shots of Rosa being caressed by Joe and to remove a brief shot of Joe's face scarred with acid. These edits were restored in video releases though the 2006 DD Entertainment DVD features the cut cinema print. In the U.S however the film was cut differently. The 'ravishing' of Rosa was left intact but 3 cuts were made to the stabbings of Bolton and the night watchman, and the surgical cutting of a patient's leg. The U.S Criterion DVD features the U.S cinema print though the cut scenes are presented as extra features on the disc. See more »
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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