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1935's The Black Room, is a wonderfully lurid costume romp with Karloff in a dual role: twin brothers who inherit a baronage but live under a family curse. One is good, one bad, and happily enough, the bad brother has the upper hand. Karloff is in terrific form, and the film features a secret chamber (complete with torture pit) that provides just the right Gothic oomph. Director Roy William Neill later did Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. The Man They Could Not Hang, from 1939, is a solid mad-scientist picture. Karloff's Dr. Savaard has perfected a re-animation process, but the police arrest him before he can revive a student--and so the doctor is sentenced to death for murder. The hanging isn't a problem, not when the doctor's assistant has the process down pat, and now Karloff can take elaborate revenge. Before I Hang (1940) opens a similar vein, with Karloff once again sentenced to death and this time conducting experiments in prison (aided by Edward Van Sloan, filmdom's original Van Helsing). However, using a murderer's blood in the secret serum proves a fatal mistake.... These cheaply-made films are solid enough programmers of the era, and surprisingly literate--although it would be a stretch to call them scary. The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942) goes the comedy route, spoofing Karloff's image as a white-haired gentleman who should not be allowed to run experiments in the basement. An Arsenic and Old Lace vibe prevails (Karloff had been starring in the stage production), and the labored comedy has Karloff and Peter Lorre using boarders at an early-American hotel as subjects for experiments.

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CO16233 Boris Karloff Icons of Horror Collection DVD (1935/Black Room/1940/Before I Hang/1939/Man They Could Not Hang/1942/Boogie Man Will Get You/Karloff) $24.99 $22.49