Amalgamated Productions/MGM, 1958. Directed by
Robert Day. Camera: Lionel Banes. With
Jean Kent, Elizabeth Allan, Anthony Dawson,
Vera Day, Tim
Turner, Diane Aubrey, Max Brimmell, Leslie Perrins, Jessica Cairns, Dorothy
Gordon, Desmond Roberts, Roy Russell, Derek Birch, Peggy Ann Clifford.
Set in Victorian times,
Boris Karloff plays a determined writer who becomes obsessed
with a twenty-year-old case surrounding "The Haymarket Strangler"
and intends to prove that the young man who was hanged for the
murders two decades earlier was, in fact, innocent. All
evidence seems to point to a certain Dr. Tenant who used a surgeon's
knife to not only choke the life out of his victims, but to slash
their flesh as well. But the details of Tenant's life and
whereabouts since the crimes remains a mystery, one which Karloff
comes to learn hits closer to home for him than he suspected.
It's amazing to realize that Boris Karloff was nearly 70 when he
appeared in this film as it is impressive to see him perform so
vigorously in a very physically demanding role. He is required
to undergo very strenuous activity as he contorts his body and
facial features to simulate a Jekyll/Hyde madman on the loose --
upper teeth gnawing spasmodically at his lower lip, one eye
half-closed, a twisted arm wielding a scalpel. At more refined
times, Karloff is very dedicated in his role as the well-meaning but
disoriented author on a road to madness.
There is no question that there are some powerful moments in this
feature, and it is highly required viewing for any fan of Karloff.
Unfortunately, the film bears a weight of becoming tedious on
occasion, so first-time viewers would want to make allowances for
this in between the thrills.