Bela Lugosi plays a doctor obsessed with death, who has a large collection of torture devices modelled off the stories of Edgar Allen Poe. He saves the life, and then falls in love with, a girl engaged to be married. When he tells her that he loves her, she spurns him, leaving him brooding in an anger descending to insanity.
Torture shows up in a lot of Bela Lugosi works, and he’s quite good at it. He gets a gleam in his eye when he is performing the inflicting of pain. The house is more reminiscent of H.H. Holmes than Poe.
The best part of the film is the relationship between Lugosi and Karloff, who Lugosi has deformed but claims he can restore back to his original appearance. Karloff’s treatment at the hands of even the supposed “good people” is heartbreaking, like if Richard III was not determined to prove a villain.
(I saw this film at the Stanford Theater)