BELA LUGOSI never had a role that made better use of his stylized ham emoting than his mad surgeon here. The camera holds him in close-ups that emphasize the penetrating gaze and knitted eyebrows as he obsesses about an attractive woman he wishes to marry.
He steals every scene he's in with his heavy emphasis on certain words and his inflection that has menace in every syllable. By comparison, Boris Karloff (top-billed) has a cameo role that he plays with his usual skill, managing to get some sympathy for a basically unsympathetic character--a man who served time as a killer. Between the two of them, they create a minor thriller that is the kind of horror film Universal was famous for in the '30s.
Lugosi being a man obsessed by Edgar Allen Poe's torture devices in stories like 'The Pit and the Pendulum', approaches every scene with relish, obviously delighted with his role as a surgeon who declares: "I love torture!" The plot, of course, is outrageously preposterous but just try to turn away as he puts into place his plan for the girl, her father and her fiance--as well as his servant Karloff.
None of it is believable, but it's all great fun in the tradition of Universal thrillers. Perfect for Halloween!!
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