The Devil Commands (1941)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Sci-Fi Horror, Supernatural Horror  |   Release Date - Feb 3, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 65 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Hal Erickson

Also known as When the Devil Commands, this cheap but lively Columbia melodrama was the last of Boris Karloff's "mad doctor" series (the official denoument of the series, The Boogie Man Will Get You, was a farcical lampoon). The film begins on an ominous note, as Anne Blair (Amanda Duff) makes a return visit to the spooky old house owned by her scientist father Julian Blair (Karloff). Curious as to why the local villagers seem so frightened, Anne soons learns the reason: Blair has been conducting experiments to communicate telepathically with the dead, and to expedite this he has been robbing a few graves here and there. Blair's determination intensifies after the death of his wife whereupon he hopes to communicate with her via his elaborate brain-wave machine. Despite the reluctant assistance of the terrified Anne, Blair sadly concludes that "There are things that human beings have no right to know", shortly before joining his wife in the Great Beyond. As one recent observer noted, The Devil Commands represents the screen's first "psychic hotline."



mad-scientist, corpse, daughter, death, experiment, father, supernatural, wife, communication, contact, grief, machine, obsession, psychic, medium [psychic]