Thursday, October 27, 2016


Businessman Tom Powers pulled himself out of poverty to become rich and powerful, but money doesn't buy happiness, and one night he shoots and kills his wife's lover. He is tried, found guilty and sentenced to die in the electric chair. Stanley Ridges, a doctor who dabbles in the occult and has written a book about making contact with the dead, is convinced that the only reason he has failed in his attempts at communication is that the will of the dead to return is not strong enough to overcome the lure of the afterlife. Ridges visits Powers on the day of his execution and, believing that Powers has a strong will, talks him into trying to make contact. Sure enough, the next day, Ridges shuts himself up in a dark little curtained-off circle, concentrates really hard, and the spirit of Powers appears next to him. However, Ridges has little time to celebrate: Powers is indeed so willful, he possesses Ridges and uses his body to exact murderous revenge against his widow, his lawyer, and others who led to his death. Ridges' daughter (Lynne Roberts) works with reporter Richard Arlen to get the bottom of it all.

I've been a classic-era horror movie buff for over fifty years, but I’d never heard of this movie. I think that’s because it was marketed as a psychological thriller. But make no mistake: this is a story of supernatural horror. It's no overlooked gem, but it's interesting. Though Arlen is top-billed as the hero, the movie belongs to Ridges (who is very good) and Powers (OK but a little too one-note to come off as an especially strong-willed person; he mostly just seems cranky, like he does playing Stanwyck's unlikable husband in DOUBLE INDEMNITY). Between these two, there’s not much left for Arlen to do, and even less for Lynne Roberts. I rather liked Charlotte Wynters as Ridges' loyal assistant Cornelia—she comes off a bit cold, but the possibility seems to exist that she is his mistress. From Republic Studios, directed with some B-movie panache by John English, known for westerns and adventure serials (MYSTERIOUS DOCTOR SATAN, DRUMS OF FU MANCHU) [Paramount Vault on YouTube]

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