BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Inner Sanctum Mysteries: Calling Dr. Death, Weird Woman, Dead Man's Eyes, The Frozen Ghost, Strange Confession and Pillow of Death (1943 - 1945)

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Inner Sanctum Mysteries

“This . . . is the Inner Sanctum.”  

With that opening statement as a guiding force, Universal Pictures launched what would be an interesting venture alongside Simon & Schuster as they produced a series of B-grade horror films starring the one and only Lon Chaney, Jr.  

"the trip is worth it as the pulpy material makes for an interesting watch"


Inner Sanctum Mysteries originally began as a weekly radio program that fascinated listeners with its scary stories and sound effects.  It was also the birthplace of The Shadow, who would soon get his own radio program after being introduced by this broadcast.  But the radio show, best known for "The Creaking Door", was running out of steam and Universal, wanting to bring more pulp into their Horror market, was quick to bring the program under their umbrella for a chance to add more murder, more noir, more screams, and much, much more MURDER to Universal.  

The films produced over the course of a two-year period include Calling Dr. Death, Weird Woman, Dead Man's Eyes, The Frozen Ghost, Strange Confession and Pillow of Death and, while none of the films are classics, their mysteries and brief running time offer a look into some pretty twisted individuals . . . all played by Chaney, who was hopeful that the series would revitalize his career with Universal.Inner Sanctum Mysteries

The opening sequence in each film - in which David Hoffman stares out at audiences from within a crystal ball - is downright disturbing and, sometimes, the best part of these movies.  Already there is a hint of madness in the air, as Chaney faces down cheating wives, voodoo shenanigans, jealousy, telepathic abilities, maddening science, and death upon death as he - in almost ever film - becomes accused of murder.  The women surrounding this guy and his desires are just fodder for nightmare situations.

Chaney is a force of nature in each film, though.  Truly, his performances - ranging from neurotic to evil genius - are solid throughout and watching him chew the scenery is one of the best things about these movies.  As pulpy as his performances are, he is definitely committed to the insanity being splashed up on the screen.   Inner Sanctum Mysteries

With an average 12-day shooting schedule, these fast films are not meant to be studied frame by frame and only genre buffs are going to dive in and actually purchase Mill Creek’s blu-ray release.  But the trip is worth it as the pulpy material makes for an interesting watch as icy hands clinch the necks of actresses Brenda Joyce, Patricia Morison, Anne Gwynne, and Evelyn Ankers.

Death, dementia, dark arts...it's just another day in the forbidding and fascinating world of the Inner Sanctum!

3/5 beers

Inner Sanctum Mysteries

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Mill Creek Entertainment
Available on Blu-ray
- November 17, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
Subtitles
:
Audio:

Discs: Blu-ray Disc; three-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

Get ready for unlimited thrills and chills as all six classic Inner Sanctum Mysteries come to Blu-ray for the first time ever. Based on the popular radio shows of the 1940's, this collectible set is a must-own for every classic mystery and horror fan.  You'll have a hauntingly good time with horror icon Lon Chaney, Jr., as he gives timeless performances in these spooky feature-length films. 

This collection includes:

  • Calling Dr. Death (1943) A doctor is not sure if he murdered his wife and has his nurse try to find the truth by hypnotizing him.
  • Weird Woman (1944) While on a trip, a professor falls in love with an exotic native woman who turns out to be a supernatural being.
  • Dead Man's Eyes (1944) When an artist is blinded, an operation to restore his sight depends on another person willing to donate their eyes.
  • The Frozen Ghost (1945) A stage mentalist and a discredited plastic surgeon are involved in mysterious goings-on in an eerie wax museum.
  • Strange Confession (1945) Flashbacks reveal the events leading up to a man's revenge on the racketeer who took advantage of his wife.
  • Pillow of Death (1945) A lawyer in love with his secretary is suspected of suffocating his wife, among others.

Video:

Framed in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, these transfers might not look the best, but they will do for genre buffs.  The black and white image is crisp with solid levels throughout.  The detailed images are surprisingly clean given the age of the film, but they reveal the limitations of the budgets.  The clarity of the presentation is solid and the film retains a level of grain that ensures an authentic and credible appearance.  Even dark scenes are rarely problematic, with the blacks proving extremely solid, and the level of accuracy ensuring that this B-movie is visually absorbing throughout.

Audio:

The uncompressed monaural soundtrack included here makes the dialogue front and center, which it ought to be.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • See Special Features.

Special Features:

Fans get NEW special features, which includes a Making Of glimpse at the radio and film series, an interview with Martin Kosleck, three commentaries, and plenty of digital bonuses.

  • THIS IS THE INNER SANCTUM: MAKING A UNIVERSAL MYSTERY SERIES produced by Daniel Griffith of Ballyhoo Motion Pictures (55 mins)
  • THE CREAKING DOOR:  ENTERING THE INNER SANCTUM - History of the Radio Series with author/radio historian Martin Grams Jr. (15 mins)
  • MIND OVER MATTER: AN ARCHIVAL INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR MARTIN KOSLECK (The Frozen Ghost) - Never Before Viewed by the Human Eye! (20 mins)
  • CALLING DR. DEATH (1943) Commentary
  • Featuring commentary from screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner and Regina LeBorg (daughter of director Reginald LeBorg)
  • WEIRD WOMAN (1944) Commentary
  • Featuring commentary from author Justin Humphreys (The Dr. Phibes Companion) and Del Howison (Dark Delicacies Horror)
  • STRANGE CONFESSION (1945) Commentary
  • Featuring commentary from screenwriter Peter Atkins (Hellraiser II, III, & IV) and screenwriter/film historian C. Courtney Joyner

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 3/5 stars
  Video  3/5 stars
  Audio 3/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

3/5 stars

Inner Sanctum Mysteries

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