Karloff Comedy! Dang!
The film starts out with a radio audience and the antics of one Kay Kyser, a comedian dressed in a graduate costume as he thrills the audience to his Kollege of Knowledge or something. He's a radio show host and has a question & answer-type show, similar to Groucho Marx's quiz show. The jokes are really, really bad! Your 12 year old might laugh at them.
"What did the short chair say to the tall chair?"
After being senselessly beaten like this, we meet our pretty girl with a gun in her purse who apparently feels she is being targeted by some unknown assassins. But the assassins are inept, as the several attempts have each failed.
The bad guys take advantage by casing her 21st birthday party. The only entrance to the old mansion of her aunt's has been blown up (blamed on lightning, yeah, sure...) and so a séance is held.
Kay Kyser is the goofball radio guy whose band plays lots of music throughout this film and there is plenty of singing going on. It's hard to tell whether this mystery film wants to be a horror film or a musical. A musical horror film?
Bela Lugosi plays the charlatan who is sucking the aunt for lots of money as she connects with the spirits of the dead. Boris Karloff plays it straight as the aunt's attorney who has a feeling for the money the aunt has. And Peter Lorre plays the professor who is supposed to debunk these kinds of spiritual séances.
You find out earlier in the film that these three are in it together to kill the girl. The why and the how I will leave you to find out when you watch it.
The characters are strictly stereotyped and not fully developed. Karloff plays it well and serious. Bela's accent is fun and amazing. And Lorre gives a great Oriental expression complete with strange false teeth, reminiscent of his Mr. Wong films.
Entertaining to a degree. I was not that impressed with many of the songs, despite Johnny Mercer's involvement in the music numbers. The jokes were awful and the slapstick silly. The whole "dark and stormy night" and secret passageways is played to the limit.
For the diehard Karloff, Lorre and Lugosi fan!
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JIm Mourgos's Reviews (72)
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