Not to be confused with the crazed shopping spree that occurs after Thanksgiving, but arguably just as dark.
Universal would blend together two of their most successful genres from the era in horror and gangster thrillers to produce a solid movie which would once again combine the awesome pairing of Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
The latter possibly delivers one of his finest performances for the production company as Dr. Ernest Sovac, a highly skilled surgeon who is compelled to save the life of his best friend college professor George Kinglsey (Stanley Ridges) with a brain transplant.
Being a Universal horror feature, things naturally don’t go according to plan when a curious side effect occurs post operation.
The chosen brain just so happens to be from Red Cannon (also played by Ridges who should be commended for his portrayal of both characters) a gangster who is not only highly sought after by the police, but has hidden $500,000 dollars somewhere in the city.
The curious concomitant occurs when somehow Kingsley starts to show personality traits of Cannon in an almost Jekyll and Hyde type situation. Cannon clearly the dominant personality starts to take firm control of Kinsley’s body in pursuit of his hidden fortune.
The drama from the movie comes from Lugosi’s Marnay, another gangster who was part of Cannon’s crew and knows of the loot and will stop at anything to stake his claim, but also from Dr. Kovac, who at first is driven by saving his friend, but when he too learns of the fortune, gets the green mist and becomes consumed with using Kingsley as a puppet to lead him to the money.
It’s a pathway for doom and death for all involved and sparks an inevitable conclusion from a tale of greed, and power.
It’s a curious movie that is only really saved by Karloff’s performance from a script doctored by Curt Siodmak again, but comes across as a bit of a mish-mash of events leaving Lugosi grossly underutilised.
With some clever changes to the plotline and perhaps a shift in casting, this movie could have presented more fairly, but as it stands, gets a little lost in its own moralistic views.
- Saul Muerte