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Doctor Stephen Ross (John Bohn) has just had a terrible accident, and
only a very peculiar surgical intervention could save him, an operation
that only one man could perform, Dr Crespi (Erich von Stroheim). Crespi is
the egotistical head of a private hospital, and he once was Ross's best
friend, but that ended when Ross stole away the girl he loved, Estelle
(Harriet Russell), who has since become Mrs Ross. Now Estelle comes
crawling back to Crespi, begging him to save her husband's very life, and
he enjoys torturing her a bit before agreeing to do the job ... and the
operation turns out to be a full success. It's only hours later that
complications arise. Crespi is on the scene soon enough to give Ross an
injection, but alas too late, Ross dies only a few minutes later.
Doctor Thomas comes to Crespi's office a few minutes later, he is
surprised that Crespi hands him a fully filled out death certificate,
something he had hardly time to do in the short time since Ross has died
That night in the morgue: Ross wakes up from a death-like state of
catatonia, but an intruder injects him with a serum that puts him right
back into that state, and this intruder is of course Dr Crespi himself,
who wants to have his final revenge on the man who stole his Estelle, a
revenge that would end in a premature burial.
The next day, Crespi
prepares for Ross's burial, when Dr Thomas comes into his office and
accuses him of having poisoned Ross. Crespi knocks Thomas unconscious,
ties him up and hides him in his wardrobe. Then he attends Ross's funeral,
which goes through without interruption. It's then that Crespi returns to
his office and sets Thomas free again, making up some silly excuse to get
him off his case. But of course, he has all but convinced Thomas, who that
night pays a visit to the cemetary together with Doctor Arnold (Paul
Guilfoyle) to dig up Ross's corpse to perform an autopsy on him to prove
Crespi a killer - but they are more than a bit surprised to find Ross
still alive ...
In the finale, Ross bursts into Crespi's office to
accuse him of murder right when Estelle arrives as well - and when docs
Thomas and Arnold come to join the party, Crespi knows his time is up,
and he shoots himself dead ...
A movie with an interesting
story, many a macabre detail and two great leads (Erich von Stroheim and
Dwight Frye) that is somehow tampered by a very stagey direction, terrible
pacing and a lack of suspense. What remains is an interesting film, but
not a very good one.