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The Devil Commands

The Devil Commands (1941) Movie Poster
USA  •    •  65m  •    •  Directed by: Edward Dmytryk.  •  Starring: Boris Karloff, Richard Fiske, Amanda Duff, Anne Revere, Cy Schindell, Dorothy Adams, Walter Baldwin, Kenneth MacDonald, Shirley Warde, Ernie Adams, Lester Allen, Wheaton Chambers, Earl Crawford..
       Dr. Julian Blair is engaged in unconventional research on human brain waves when his wife is tragically killed in a freak auto accident. The grief-stricken scientist becomes obsessed with redirecting his work into making contact with the dead and is not deterred by dire warnings from his daughter, his research assistant, or his colleagues that he is delving into forbidden areas of knowledge. He moves his laboratory to an isolated New England mansion where he continues to try to reach out to his dead wife. He is aided by his mentally-challenged servant Karl and abetted by the obsessive Mrs. Walters, a phony medium, who seems to exert a sinister influence over him. When their overly curious housekeeper discovers the truth about their experiments, her death brings the local sheriff in to investigate.

Review:

Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
Image from: The Devil Commands (1941)
SPOILERSThe great Brois Karloff in another one of his many horror films about a misunderstood, but really great guy, mad scientist-Dr. Juian Blair-this time in communicating with the dead trough their brainwaves.

The entire story of the mad as a hatter Dr. Blair is told by his daughter Anne, Amanda Duff, in an hour long flashback. It was Anne who was to become a victim of her father's insane experiments in his communicating with his dead wife Helen, Shirley Warde, who's tragic death the Doc feels responsible for. Getting results in picking up brain waves with live subjects in his laboratory Dr. Blair attempted to do the same with dead one's in regard to his wife who was killed in a car accident. This happened as Dr.Blair went to the local bakery to pick up a birthday cake for his daughter's 20th birthday.

Having a brainwave print of Helen before she was killed Dr. Blair attempt to pick up his dead wife's brainwaves from beyond was only half successful with him being kicked out of the collage, where he was head of the Science Department, by his not so impressed colleagues before her could finish it. It's when Dr. Blair's assistant Karl, Ralph "A Penny for his Thoughts" Penney, introduced him to psychic and medium Mrs Walters, Anne Revere, that the mad doctor finally convinced himself that he was in fact on to something: Communicating with the dead! It's not that Mrs. Walters was the genuine article, she was in fact a fake, but she had the ability through her electro magnetic energy force to open the door for disembodied spirits like the Doc's late wife Helen to communicate with the world of the living!

Moving, with both Karl & Mrs. Walters to the quite seaside New England town of Brasham Harbor to conduct his secret experiments in human brainwaves Dr. Blair soon started to suffer, by working day and night for weeks at a time, from a severe case of burnout with the evil Mrs. Walters taking over his experiments. It's then when everything went bananas for the poor and by now mentally and physically exhausted Doc. It's when Dr. Blair's maid Mrs. Marcy, Dorothy Adams, tired to sneak into his secret laboratory, at the insistence of the local sheriff-or Mister-Ed, that things really got out of control!

Getting herself killed, when she accidentally turned on the brainwave machine, Mrs. Marcy's now distraught husband Seth, Walter Baldwin, blamed Doc Blair for her death and whipped up the local townspeople, who had no use for Doc Blair anyway, into a bloodthirsty lynch mob. With pitchforks and torches in hand the mob headed out to Doc Blair's place to pay him a very very unfriendly and unannounced visit!

SPOILERS Working against time with the mob bearing down on him Dr. Blair did in fact make contact with his dead wife through his brainwave machine using his daughter Anne as the connection between the world of the both living and dead. This all went to pot when the Doc overloaded his brainwave machine with enough juice that could power the entire city of Boston! In a flash everything that Dr. Blair accomplished over the last ten or so years went up in flames but in the end, even though he was not around to see it, his experiments in brainwave communications turned out to be a smashing success!


Review by sol from the Internet Movie Database.