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The Crime of Dr. Crespi

USA 1935
produced by
John H. Auer for Liberty Pictures
directed by John H. Auer
starring Erich von Stroheim, Harriet Russell, Dwight Frye, Paul Guilfoyle, John Bohn, Geraldine Kay, Jean Brooks, Patsy Berlin, Joe Verdi, Dean Raymond
screenplay by Lewis Graham, Edward Olmstead, John H. Auer, somehow based on The Premature Burial

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

When 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.


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