Film (1936). Warner Brothers Pictures. Produced by Louis F Edelman (uncredited). Directed by Michael Curtiz. Written by Ewart Adamson, Peter Milne, Robert Andrews, and Lillie Hayward from an original story by Adamson and Joseph Fields. Cast includes Marguerite Churchill, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwen and Boris Karloff. 66 minutes. Black and white.
Down-on-his-luck pianist John Elman (Karloff) is framed for a murder by gangsters led by Nolan (Cortez). He is sentenced to death; evidence of his innocence is found too late to prevent his execution in the electric chair. Scientist Dr Evan Beaumont (Gwen) obtains Elman's body and successfully revives him using an artificial heart, wishing to obtain information on the afterlife. Elman is only concerned with vengeance on those who framed him, whose identities he now knows, having gained ESP-like abilities upon revival. Elman stalks the gangsters, who each die ironically by their own hand in attempting to escape him. Before he dealing with the last two gang members, Elman is shot dead by the law, and dies again without being able to explain anything about an afterlife to Beaumont. The latter is warned not to repeat the experiment, with a Bible quotation reflecting the Cliché of the era: that there are things man was not meant to know.
This Horror in SF film may be the first to involve the use of an artificial heart, and is an early example of efforts to combine the sf, horror, and crime genres. Karloff reportedly asked for changes to the script, feeling his character was originally portrayed in a manner too similar to that of his classic Frankenstein Monster. [GFi]
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