Monday, October 17, 2011

Double feature - Before I Hang and The Boogie Man Will Get You

I love Boris Karloff. I think he lifts any movie he is in. And some of them certainly need lifting.






Before I hang features Karloff as a gentle doctor who is jailed for a mercy killing. While in prison, a supremely understanding prison warden gets interested in his research work and agrees to set up a lab. Karloff can work there with a scientist until the time comes for him to be hanged. Together they work to develop a serum that will reverse the effects of aging. All for the good of mankind!

Hours before the hanging they complete the serum. To activate it they need to mix it with some blood. To save time they use the blood of a recently hanged murderer. I know... but they were trying to save time. And with nothing else to lose they try it on Karloff. All seems good but it's time for Karloff to hang. Just as he's being marched off there comes a call from the Governor. He's saved! Hurrah! Off he goes home.

All is well until... creepy hand movements and Karloff becomes a killer! He goes around killing his friends, driven by the blood of the murderer. This was actually not a bad film. Karloff plays the scientist as a sweetly doddery old man and his physical transformation into a killer is well done. The creepy bits here are doctors in shiny black leather gloves, big needles and giving blood.





This one's a comedy. Like much 1940s humour you've got to be a fan of the era to endure most of it. Again, Karloff is a daffy old scientist. He's doing experiments to create a race of super beings to help the war effort, using traveling salesmen as his test subjects. Peter Lorre plays the local sheriff who gets interested in the profit making potential of the scheme. Bodies pile up. Lorre and Karloff are fabulous together. They obviously have a deep affection for each other, having worked together a number of times. I suspect there's a fair amount of ad-libbing going on, as Lorre was apt to rant on once he got on a roll. It's very sweet and endearing and I just wished I could have seen more of the two stars together.

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