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Black Friday
Friday the 13th

USA 1940
produced by
Burt Kelly for Universal
directed by Arthur Lubin
starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Stanley Ridges, Anne Nagel, Anne Gwynne, Virginia Brissac, Edmund MacDonald, Paul Fix, Murray Alper, Jack Mulhall, Joe King, John Kelly, Raymond Bailey
written by Curt Siodmak, Eric Taylor, music by Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner

Universal horror cycle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When his friend George Kingsley (Stanley Ridges), a well-meaning professor of English literature, gets into a carchase between gangsters through no fault of his own, & ultimatley gets run over, his best friend, the brilliant brainsurgeon doctor Sovac (Boris Karloff), tries everything to help him ... but it is not until Red Cannon - the gangster who ran Kingsley over & is now dieing - with his dieing breath promises Sovac a share of the loot of his last heist if he saves his life, that Sovac has one of these typical B-movie ideas ... why not transplant the brain of the gangster into the body of Kingsley (not instead of Kingsley's brain but additional to it), which would save Kingsley's life ... & the Red Cannon brain could tell Sovac where the money is.

Slowly, Kingsley seems to be recovering, & for the most part the Red Cannon brain seems dormant, so Sovac tries a drastic measure, take Kingsley to New York, to exactly the hotel where Red Cannon hid out & try to confront him with a few of Cannon's favourite spots, & his moll, nightclub singer Sunny (Anne Nagel), & bring the Red Cannon persona to the fore .... & wouldn't you know it, it works.

It works to well though, because, Kingsley, as Cannon, falls into the gangster's old habits of being a brute & avenging himself & the like, & soon, two of the men (Paul Fix, Raymond Bailey) who chased him & caused his accident (& death - his old body's death anyways) are dead, murdered by him.

Then he visits Sunny, to pick the romance up where he left it off 2 months ago, when he died. Sunny, need I say it, is mighty confused. However, soon she decides to throw in with Marnay (Bela Lugosi) & Miller (Edmond MacDonald) - the two gangsters who have caused Cannon's death & are still alive, & while he promises her to get his loot (half a million, no less) & then take off with her to South America, she sells him off to them.

So when Kingsley/Cannon is off to fetch the dough, Marnay & Miler are right behind him & try to kill him ... with little success, Cannon kills Miller instead. Marnay though takes off with the loot, but unfortunately hides at Sunny's, the first place Cannon coes looking for him, & in a fit of rage, he kills both Marnay & sunny, then takes off with the money ... & on the way to the airport in a taxi to make good his getaway, he turns back to mild professor Kingsley & suddenly asks to be taken to his hotel, where Doc Sovac, eager to get his hands on the money, awaits him, calms him down, puts him to sleep & somehow alleviates Kingsley of his money (about which he can't remember anything anymore anyhow).& even on the next day, when the police comes snooping abouut, nobody would even try to suspect mild-mannered Kingsley ... & Doc Sovac of course does his best to let Kingsley's Cannon-persona lie dormant ...

Everything seems to work fine for a few months, & Kingsley resumes his job as professor for English literature as if nothing has happened, until one day in class, he hears a siren ... until one day he hears a siren that reawakens his Cannon-persona, & it doesn't take long before he remembers that Doc Sovac has tried to doublecross him, & for that, he has to die ... or so Cannon thinks, but Sovac pulls his gun first & shoots Cannon, & with him his best friend Kingsley - for which Sovac is soon convicted to the chair. & on the way to his death, he hands his diary which details his advancments in brain surgery, to a young reporter, in the hopes that it may some day used for good, too ...


This blend of science fiction, horror (especially Jekyll & Hyde springs into mind), & hard boiled gangster story is enjoyably silly but features a well-structured plot that keeps things going at a steady pace & keeps the audience entertained throughout.

By the way, Boris Karloff & Bela Lugosi do not appear in a single scene together, second-billed Lugosi is merely a supporting character, but he delivers a fine character performance.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD