Boris Karloff adds Dr. Julian Blair to his collection of mad doctor roles. Here he starts offperfectly sane and well-respected, having just developed a device that records brain-waves.When his wife is killed in an accident, he is overcome with grief, and, one night in his lab, hismachine records a new transmission of his wife’s brain-waves. Karloff becomes obsessed withcommunicating with her, stopping at nothing in his quest, along the way frying the mind of hisservant and …alling into cahoots with bitch-from-hell spiritualist. The cinematography is dark andmoody, conjuring delicious atmosphere while simultaneously concealing the shortcomings of thecheap sets. The final configuration of Karloff’s experiment (which is most effective if you hit itcold, without knowing what it will be) is surprisingly creepy, and still quite powerful over sixtyyears after the film’s original release.
The sound is limited to the original mono. The music is okay, but not spectacular. Thedialogue is perfectly clear, and quite warmly reproduced, which does particular justice toKarloff’s unique velvet tones. The age of the track is apparent, however, especially in thebackground hiss and static. While not severe, these are certainly present.
The stark black-and-white is, as mentioned above, fabulously gloomy in just the way a 1941horror movie should be. The blacks are veritably abyssal, and there is only very slight edgeenhancement visible. The age of the print, however, is rather more visible due to damage.Speckles and grain are apparent in the opening. Though the quality improves almostimmediately, speckling does return now and then throughout the film. About 30 minutes in, thedamage is even more noticeable, with some flickering and (especially) a vertical line down theframe that hovers about for a couple of minutes.
Nothing on offer except trailers for Darkness Falls, Identity and TsuiHark’s Vampire Hunters. Disappointing, but not really surprising.
So the extras are essentially non-existent, and there hasn’t been a thorough restoration jobdone on the print. Both of these elements would have been a bit much to hope for, I suppose, andthe sound and picture quality are still quite acceptable. The release itself is a real treat for fansof classic horror, and is not to be missed.
Special Features List