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Friday, December 4, 2015


More than slightly lunatic Pre-Code horror pic from Poverty Row producer/directing brothers Victor & Edward Halperin, here working with A-list players for a Paramount release.* It’s a two-tier tale of terror as phony psychic Alan Dinehart convinces wealthy Carole Lombard he’s communicating with her recently deceased twin brother. Meanwhile, personality researcher H. B. Warner is investigating the roaming spiritual emanations coming out of criminal masterminds after their deaths. He’s currently got a doozy of a dead subject in his home laboratory, a just executed serial murderess, freshly fried for a notorious post-orgy three-for-one slaying. Yikes! And there’s nothing phony about the latest psychic transference, a change immediately noticed by Lombard’s fiancé Randolph Scott. Alas, it all sounds like more fun than it turns out to be since the brothers Halperin are still megging in stiff Early Talkie mode, and our slumming cast look more than a wee bit embarrassed. (How’d Paramount get us roped into this nutty thing?) Watch close for a ‘no-cut’ trick shot when Lombard returns to her normal personality right at the end. It’s got to be the same sliding red-filter special-effect director Rouben Mamoulian & lenser Karl Struss worked up to get Fredric March seamlessly in and out of character(s) in DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE/’31.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *All the major Hollywood studios tried cracking the code of those Universal Horror series. So cheap, so profitable, so franchisable! (Just about the only thing @ Universal they did covet.) It’s probably why the Halperin Brothers got this one-shot Paramount deal.

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