Wednesday, November 21, 2012

In touch with your Inner Sanctum

(or, as Crystal Math refers to it, Inner Scrotum)

Thanks to JPX's charitable contribution to JSP's horror collection, and to Lon Chaney Jr's trouble-ridden mug, the two of us enjoyed episodes entitled "Calling Dr. Death," "Pillow of Death," and "Weird Woman." As you can see below, all of the Inner Sanctum movies follow a recognizable pattern.

Calling Dr. Death
(1943)
Crystal Math's rating: ****
Johnny Sweatpants' rating: ***



Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as Dr. Mark Steele, an unhappily married neurologist who dreams of divorcing his wife and getting it on with his nurse/secretary, Stella. His wife is adulterous, condescending, and unapologetic towards Steele about her actions. One weekend when Steele and Stella decide to get out of town, his wife's skull is crushed with a blunt instrument. Of course, Steele is the primary suspect and the chief of police is not backing off questioning Steele and imposing himself in nearly every aspect of his life.

JSP: The use of Lon Chaney Jr.'s whispering inner monolog is both endearing and illuminating. His festering hatred towards his wife Maria is justified as she openly despises him and cheats on him unapologetically. Apparently divorce was not really an option in the 40's because it seemed like the most pragmatic solution but it's never even thrown on the table as an option.

Pillow of Death
(1945)
Crystal Math's rating: *** 1/2
Johnny Sweatpants' rating: ***1/2



Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as Dr. Mark Steele Wayne Fletcher, an unhappily married neurologist attorney who dreams of divorcing his wife and getting it on with his nurse/secretary, Donna. Fletcher is a successful attorney who despises his wife's growing obsession with suicide. When she unexpectedly dies via pillow suffocation, Fletcher again becomes the primary suspect with a detective busting his balls for all the answers.

JSP: First of all I was disappointed that the weird head in the jar did not introduce this film. Secondly, "pillow" has to be the most non-threatening noun to ever precede "...of Death" in the history of cinema. In any case Pillow of Death was one of the more entertaining installments, mainly because of the high body count and the hilarious seance used to contact his deceased wife. His wife's ghost points her finger squarely at Lon but is the seance merely trickery?

Weird Woman
(1944)
Crystal Math's rating: ***1/2
Johnny Sweatpants' rating: ***



Lon Chaney, Jr. stars as Dr. Mark Steele Wayne Fletcher Norman Reed, an unhappily contently married neurologist attorney Sociology professor who dreams of divorcing his wife and getting it on with his nurse/secretary, Donna convincing his superstitious wife Paula to give up the traditions of her adopted Pacific Islander rituals and get with the Western school of thought on science over faith. When one of his colleagues is found murdered, he must clear Paula's name before the town breaks into witch hunt mode.

JSP: Weird Woman is a little more involved than the other Inner Sanctum murder mysteries because it explores the neverending battle between reason vs. superstition. Personally I found Lon Chaney's character to be the least likable in the bunch. He clearly only married Paula because she's a knockout but treats her more like a savage that needs domestication than a wife. Nevertheless it was just as much a fun viewing as the others.

There are 2 more Inner Sanctums that we weren't able to tackle but there's always next year!

2 comments:

Octopunk said...

Heh. I love the style of crossing out the earlier facts and dropping in new ones, perhaps next year we should all just recycle one review until the blog is an impenetrable swamp of text with lines through it.

Nice dis on "pillow," too. You know, I once held a pillow over my face and pushed as hard as I could and I could still breathe. Has anyone ever really died this way?

What could be a worse title? "Collander of Death." "Comfy Chair of Death." "Teddy Bear of Death."

Catfreeek said...

Haha! Kitten of Death, Cotton Ball of Death, Goldfish of Death...