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Sheldon

Inner Sanctum Mysteries on DVD

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No, I'd never seen them before either, but they were released individually back in the late 90s on VHS. I read some reviews about them from Leonard Maltin. I kept holding out though hoping they'd find their way to TCM. Well, after eight years of no luck, I jumped at the chance to get them all together in one set. When they were offered on VHS, they had an individual SRP of like $14.95! That would have been quite expensive. I bought all six for $19.87--what a deal!

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No, I'd never seen them before either, but they were released individually back in the late 90s on VHS. I read some reviews about them from Leonard Maltin. I kept holding out though hoping they'd find their way to TCM. Well, after eight years of no luck, I jumped at the chance to get them all together in one set. When they were offered on VHS, they had an individual SRP of like $14.95! That would have been quite expensive. I bought all six for $19.87--what a deal!

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No, I'd never seen them before either, but they were released individually back in the late 90s on VHS. I read some reviews about them from Leonard Maltin. I kept holding out though hoping they'd find their way to TCM. Well, after eight years of no luck, I jumped at the chance to get them all together in one set. When they were offered on VHS, they had an individual SRP of like $14.95! That would have been quite expensive. I bought all six for $19.87--what a deal!

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No, I'd never seen them before either, but they were released individually back in the late 90s on VHS. I read some reviews about them from Leonard Maltin. I kept holding out though hoping they'd find their way to TCM. Well, after eight years of no luck, I jumped at the chance to get them all together in one set. When they were offered on VHS, they had an individual SRP of like $14.95! That would have been quite expensive. I bought all six for $19.87--what a deal!

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Wow, talk about a major glitch! Seven Times! The life force within the message boards must have really wanted to get my message accross!

 

By the way, you don't have to read all seven if you don't want to!

 

Gerb

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I just devoured all six movies over a two day period. Somehow with all the movies I've watched over the years I'd never seen any of these. I thoroughly enjoyed them. Any Lon Chaney fan should definitely pick this up, immediately!

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I just started watching these movies. The first one, "Calling Dr. Death," was dreadful. I kept expecting Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman to walk in an reveal that this was just a skit on their old TV show.

 

However, "Weird Woman" was a pleasant surprise. It departed a lot from its source, Fritz Leiber's "Conjure Wife," but it had atmosphere, and it had two good performances. Evelyn Ankers was superb as the villainness, and Elizabeth Russell (who usually was in the Val Lewton horror movies) had a number of creepy scenes as a sinister widow. "Weird Woman" isn't as good as "Burn, Witch, Burn," but it has a nice noir atmosphere and a strong conclusion.

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Well, I watched the rest of these movies, and I now know why they aren't usually mentioned in books on horror movies. They aren't really horror movies (except for "Weird Woman.")

 

"Dead Man's Eyes" is basically a mystery with some noir overtones. It was okay.

 

"The Frozen Ghost" came close to being a horror film. However the film felt like two stories shoehorned together. Chaney is a mentalist who feels guilty when a man has a heart attack during his act, so he moves into a wax museum. ????? I liked the detective (Douglas Dumbrill) in this movie. I didn't really like the fact that the two most foreign people in the cast ended up dead, but I guess this was mostly par for the course in wartime films.

 

"Strange Confession" was perhaps the best of these films after "Weird Woman." Not really horror or a mystery, it was mostly soap opera, a remake of the Claude Rains film "The Man who Sold His Head." This had Chaney's best performance of the series, was stylishly filmed, and had the best cast.

 

"Pillow of Death" started interestingly but ran out of gas after Edward Blomberg got killed. He played the crotchety comedy relief, and after he passed from the scene I didn't really care what happened. Ironically, this was the only movie of the six "inner Sanctum" movies that felt like it could have been an episode of the "Inner Sanctum" radio show.

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Haven't seen ANY of these, unfortunately.

 

I did see fantastic clips from WEIRD WOMAN on YouTube.

 

"Go back, go back to the jungle!"

 

The incomparable Elizabeth Russell.

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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Thanks for the compliment, Bronxgirl.

 

The "go back to the jungle" scene was very good. Elizabeth Russell was as scary there as she was in "Curse of the Cat People."

 

Remembering the "Weird Woman" scene reminded me of the xenophobia in "The Frozen Ghost." I suppose xenophobia is inherent in horror films, with their mysterious outsiders, but it seems closer to the surface in some of these Inner Sanctum movies.

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Enjoyed your comments as well, Mike, although I can't agree with your dismissal of CALLING DR. DEATH. It's a pretty good noirish mystery which sets the tone for the rest of the series (with the possible exception of PILLOW OF DEATH), as neurologist Lon Chaney tries to find out who murdered his shrew of a wife (Ramsey Ames) before the police in the person of tough cop J. Carrol Naish tag him for the deed. The only problem is: he just can't seem to remember much about the weekend she was killed. Good thing faithful nurse Patricia Morison's around to help him. Or is it? Besides, any film with Chaney intoning "Neurology! Neurology!" can't be all bad.

 

WEIRD WOMAN ranks right up there, too, and if it does stray a bit from its original source (the novel BURN WITCH BURN! by Fritz Leiber), it's still worth a look for Lon's realistic portrayal of a college professor whose ex-girl friend (played to nasty perfection by Evelyn Ankers) can't quite adjust to the fact that he's married to someone else. The picture was remade a little more faithfully to its source in 1962.

 

DEAD MAN'S EYES features Chaney as an artist whose jealous model Tanya (Acquanetta) blinds him by switching his eyewash with acid in hopes of preventing his marriage to fiancee Jean Parker. When Chaney's prospective father-in-law announces his intention to bequeath his eyes to Lon for an operation that may restore his sight, you just know he's not going to last much longer.

 

THE FROZEN GHOST features Lon as "mentalist" Gregor the Great. As you said, Mike, when a drunken heckler in a radio studio audience dies, Lon breaks off his engagement to Evelyn Ankers and moves into a wax museum in order to deal wih his guilt feelings. But there's more going on here than meets the eye, with manager Milburn Stone and extremely shady wax sculptor Martin Kosleck hanging around (not to mention cute young Elena Verdugo).

 

The picture STRANGE CONFESSION is a remake of is actually entitled THE MAN WHO RECLAIMED HIS HEAD. The original was a pacifist anti-war story in which Claude Rains decapitates Lionel Atwill for numerous betrayals. Here, Lon does the honors to the thoroughly deserving J. Carrol Naish.

 

The final picture in the series was PILLOW OF DEATH and featured Lon as a lawyer in love with his pretty young secretary whose wife ends up dead. Then, members of the secretary's family start dying. Sorry, Mike, but it was George Cleveland in the part of crotchety old Sam Kincaid which you enjoyed so much. J. Edward Bromberg played Julian Julian (that's right, Julian Julian), a psychic investigator who may know more about the murders than he purports to have had revealed to him by the spirits of the victims. The film also co-stars Rosalind Ivan, who was so wonderful as Charles Laughton's shrewish wife in THE SUSPECT and Agatha Dunham in the Sherlock Holmes picture PURSUIT TO ALGIERS. Clara Blandick, Aunt Em in THE WIZARD OF OZ, can also be seen.

 

As can readily be surmised, these are mystery thrillers, not horror pictures, thus accounting, as Mike points out, for their lack of mention in many horror reference books. But for fans of the genre, they're enjoyable and well worth a look, and even more so if you're a Lon Chaney fan.

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I'm looking forward to all these.

 

I'm glad Evelyn Ankers got to play some juicy, unsympathetic parts in WEIRD WOMAN, THE MAD GHOUL, and LONE WOLF IN LONDON.

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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I enjoy BURN, WITCH, BURN! I love the college setting. Horror amid ruins, bookshops, libraries, and all antiquarian institutions is tremendously appealing to me..

 

I read some of Fritz Leiber's short stories in a horror anthology many decades ago.

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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Well, Bronxie, she's not really all that unsympathetic in THE MAD GHOUL. In fact, she's the heroine!

 

For more of Ankers on the dark side, check out the Sherlock Holmes picture THE PEARL OF DEATH (if you haven't already). And, speaking of Holmes pictures, she was also quite good as a "woman of the city" in SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VOICE OF TERROR, definitely not your typical "squeaky clean" Ankers heroine.

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Ankers is fabulous as Kitty, the street walker, in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror. She gives a knockout, rousing speech to all her bar buddies to find the killer of her boyfriend and the Nazi enemy of London. There are several ravishing close-ups of Ankers that were never to be repeated in any of her films and she looks like a real glamor queen. She would never look as gorgeous as she does in Voice of Terror. Also the confrontation scene between her and Elizabeth Russell in the marvelous, WEIRD WOMAN, is one of the best acted scenes in Universal's B-movie history. Russell acts like one possessed: "A woman lied! A WOMAN LIEDDDDDD!" And Ankers looks properly terrified. And that ending! It proves that Universal had no idea what to do with such great actresses as Ankers, Russell, Virginia Christine, Fay Helm, Doris Lloyd or such phenomenal looking starlets as Ramsay Ames and Acquanetta.

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Poor Bruce. You've cleared up a lot.

 

I didn't remember Zucco was bonkers for her as well. (and also, just bonkers)

 

I'll look forward to your take on THE MILLERSON CASE. Everyone a-murderin' and a-dancin' and a-courtin' and a-cat-fightin'.

 

You haven't lived until you see Barbara Pepper sprucing up for Warner Baxter. I'm sure Arnold the Pig was around somewhere.

 

Message was edited by: Bronxgirl48

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