Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Black Sleep (1956)

Starring Basil Rathbone, Akim Tamiroff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Bela Lugosi
Directed by Reginald LeBorg
(actor & director credits courtesy IMDB.com)

A reputed surgeon fakes a young doctor's death to save him from the gallows and employs him as his assistant, but the young man objects when he learns of the doctor's cruel experiments on the living.

This film was for a long time unavailable on home video, and I had long wanted to see it, as ten years after the death of Universal's classic horror films, it reunited several of their stars, as well as LeBorg, one of Universal's directors during that period.  The movie doesn't quite recapture the fun of those pictures, and with Chaney and Lugosi playing mutes, it doesn't afford them choice roles, but I still enjoy the film, and it still offers some eerie chills.  There's a well-utilized and photographed castle set, a mysterious and foreboding musical score, and a number of scenes that would have been pretty shocking in 1956, as well as a quality performance by Basil Rathbone anchoring the film.  It's not a worthy tribute or followup to the great Universal horror films, but for me it is worthwhile entertainment, if only a shadow of what it could have been.  

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