George Waggner for Universal
directed by George Waggner
starring Boris Karloff, Susanna Foster, Turhan Bey, Gale Sondergaaard, Thomas Gomez, June Vincent, George Dolenz, Ludwig Stössel, Jane Farrar, Ernö Verebes, Lotte Stein, Scotty Beckett, William Edmunds, Maxwell Hayes, Dorothy Lawrence, Ernie Adams, Gertrude Astor, Grace Cunard, William Desmond, Francis Ford, Stuart Holmes
screenplay by Curt Siodmak, Lynn Starling, based on a play by Edward Locke, adaptation by Curt Siodmak, librettos by George Waggner, music by Edward Ward
Universal horror cycle
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Ten years ago, opera physician Doctor Hohner (Boris Karloff) was in
love with Marcellina (June Vincent), a celebrated opera diva, and the two
had a relationship ... but he couldn't stand sharing her voice with other
people, so he strangled her, but made it look as if she just diappeared.
Now: Theatre owner Count Seebruck (Thomas Gomez) has just discovered a
virtually unknown girl, Angela (Susanna Foster), whose voice is simply
amazing and the first voice in 10 years to equal Marcellina's - so in
rather a hurry, Seebruck makes her his new diva, to rave reviews. Hohner,
who still works at the opera house, also notices the similarity of the
voices, and immediately thinks Angela - or at least her voice - is his too
... and hypnotizes her to never sing again, only to then offer her abode
in his home, which she, under his spell, accepts.
However, Hohner's maid Louise (Gale Sondergaard), who was once
Marcellina's maid and madly in love with her, helps Angela's boyfriend
Franz (Turhan Bey) in getting her out of the Doctor's clutches, and with
the help of the teenage King (Scotty Beckett) - what, a teenage King ? -
he makes her sing again.
When Hohner realizes he's totally losing his grip on Angela and that
even the cops are after him, he locks himself into the room where he keeps
Marcellina's body - which for some reason the maid never stumbled upon in
her ten years with him -, accidently sets the place on fire and burns to
It's hard to imagine a film that's more devoid of any kind of climax
than this one - which is even more surprising given the film's title,
which I have no idea what it's referring to. Climax was promoted as
a Technicolor horror film hot on the heels of the very successful (but
rather disappointing) Phantom of the Opera from a year before, even
using much of the same sets, but in fact the film is simply a
directionless melodrama that lacks any kind of tension or suspense, that
features a climax (if you can even call it that) that is a total letdown,
and that even the great Boris Karloff who at least is properly menacing
and on top of his game, cannot save. A total waste of time.