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Calling Dr. Death

USA 1943
produced by
Ben Pivar (associate) for Universal
directed by Reginald Le Borg
starring Lon Chaney jr, Patricia Morison, J. Carrol Naish, David Bruce, Ramsay Ames, Fay Helm, Holmes Herbert, Alec Craig, Frederick Giermann, Lisa Golm, Charles Wagenheim, Mary Hale, George Eldredge, John Elliott, Robert F.Hill, Al Ferguson, Paul Phillips, Rex Lease, Frank Marlowe, David Hoffman, Jack Rockwell
written by Edward Dein, special photographic effects by John P.Fulton, musical director: Paul Sawtell

Inner Sanctum, Universal horror cycle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Neurologist Dr Steele's (Lon Chaney jr) marriage to his wife Marian (Ramsay Ames) was all but happy, so when she one day turns up dead, it's no surprise that he is not overcome by grief - but it's also no surprise that in Inspector Gregg's (J.Carrol Naish) book he is the prime suspect of the murder. Problem is, Doc Steele doesn't only have no alibi for the time of the murder, he is also hit by a case of severe amnesia, so he doesn't even know what he did on the whole weekend the murder occured ... so even he himself doesn't know for sure if he committed the murder or not. In the whole world it seems only his nurse Stella (Patricia Morison), who is also his secret sort-of lover, believes he is innocent, and she provides him with an alibi that all but convinces the inspector.

Ultimately though, the murderer seems to be found with Robert Duval (David Bruce), whom Marian had an affair with and who eventually turns out to be an extortionist. However, when Steele interviews the man in prison, he becomes convinced that the man is innocent - a conviction which inspector Gregg shares.

Doc Steele does everything to find the real killer and save Duval from being hanged, but all the clues seem to invariably be pointing back to himself, and only what he has remembered under self-hypnosis - hypnosis being something he frequently uses in his job - proves him innocent ... not enough for inspector Gregg, who keeps hounding him.

Finally, we have arrived at the night before the execution, and Steele hasn't come up with anything that could prove Duval innocent. Overcome by guilt and depression, he asks Stella to spend the night with him (not what you think) to keep him diverted, but to little avail. Then though in his office, Stella falls asleep, and for some reason Steele has the idea of hypnotizing her - and wouldn't you know it under hypnosis, Stella confesses to have murdered Marian and to have run a fine little racket to extort money from Doc Steele togethr with Robert Duval ... wow. Fortunately enough, inspector Gregg has been listening in on the whole session and now arrests Stella while at the same time calling off the execution.


Sloppily written horror/crime thriller that uses a few plottwists too many for its own good and often gets unnecessarily confusing for all the wrong reasons. And Lon Chaney jr's whispering inner voice gets at times positively annoying or simply ridiculous. That said, if you like clichéd B-crime-cinema from the 1940's and do not care too much about stringent and logical screenplays, you might find yourself liking this one ... just don't expect too much !


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