Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Dr. Hohner, a theatre physician at the Vienna Royal Theatre, murders his diva soprano mistress when she breaks up with him (she had it coming). He hides her body in a large room abutting his office and the crime is never solved (great forensics, guys). Ten years later a young, attractive singer joins the theatre Dr. Hohner is startled to hear that she sounds remarkably like his ex-girlfriend. This, of course, sends him over the deep end and he decides that he must silence her beautiful voice, which he accomplishes through hypnosis. When his hypnotic suggestions (“You will never sing again”) begin to fail, he concludes that the only way to truly silence her is to snuff her out.
I'm so bored
“Hooray!” I exclaimed when I received this Boris Karloff film in the mail, “More vintage horror with Karloff!” I thought when I settled down to watch it. Boy was I wrong. It only took about 5 minutes before I started having thoughts about aborting it, or slashing my wrists. First, I hate, hate, hate, Technicolor and it has no business being part of any 1940s horror film (apparently this was Karloff’s first film in color). Technicolor makes everything look too bright and fake. I felt like I was in Munchkinland and I was being asked to follow some yellow brick road. I momentarily thought of changing the color to black and white but I honestly have no idea how to do this on my television. Believe it or not, the Technicolor was not the worst part. The worst part is that this film pulls a major bait-and-switch. Sure it has Karloff who plays a murderer, but the film mainly focuses on a half dozen or so lavish musical performances! We are treated to a number of full dress rehearsals and evening performances at the Vienna Royal Theatre. If you cut the music out of this film the non-music portion probably runs about 15 minutes. I was so disgusted but I stuck with it. “Surely it will get better!” I rationalized. Nope. Even Karloff seemed completely bored and was clearly phoning it in with a monotone, tired performance. The actual “climax” comes swiftly and then we get the big, fat, merciful “The End”.