The Devil Commands

1941

Action / Horror / Sci-Fi

1
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 56%
IMDb Rating 6.3 10 987

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 11, 2021 at 02:07 AM

Director

Cast

Boris Karloff as Dr. Julian Blair
Anne Revere as Mrs. Blanche Walters
Dorothy Adams as Mrs. Marcy
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
592.42 MB
956*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 4 min
P/S 0 / 11
1.07 GB
1424*1072
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 4 min
P/S 0 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by whitec-3 6 / 10

well-directed nuttiness with one unforgettable scene

As for another viewer, this film was deposited in my memory banks a generation ago. This morning (4 Sept 2007) the TCM screen stirred that memory, so I taped and replayed the conclusion. The content is thin but the film is short, at least for a grown-up. Karloff is splendid, perfectly absorbed as ever in his character. His role is well supported by the evil medium-familiar woman with regulation severely-pulled-back hair. Dmytryk's touch is in evidence already, as every scene is well composed and lighted.

But the reason why the film stuck in my aging memory, and the only reason for it to attract attention, is the stunningly realized seance scenes at the end. As other posters have described, this isn't just any seance: most of the participants have already crossed over, but they look bewitchingly cool sheathed in deco metal suits. (Another poster called them diving suits, but more like space suits you'd find on the covers of Amazing Tales in that era.) In classic seance style, all these suited bodies are seated around a table.

As in Frankenstein and so many other movies since, the action in the lab scene mostly involves turning up the juice, which pours through the whole interlinked seance, adding a lot of hypnotic background noise. (And can be defended historically, since Spiritualists often used electro-magnetic metaphors to describe their rapport.)

What happens then testifies to a lesson later film-makers probably can't re-learn: nothing is more suggestive than restraint. In two concluding scenes where Karloff finally gets the experiment up and running the way he planned, this well-built seance scenario comes to partial but mesmerizing life. A spinning vortex appears at the bodies' center. The voice of Karloff's dead wife breaks through in a grinding electronica: "Julian!"

Then a lovely, unpredictable action: the seance cadavers in their space suits move ever so slightly, bowing toward the vortex in a series of click-actions. Then, when the electricity ceases, they click back into upright postures. Just as the Karloff character hears his wife's voice, something strangely suggestive of life beyond death occurs. The scene lasts only seconds but is repeated for the mob-finale. It's like an Eric Clapton solo, where you're touched less by what is actually played than all that might have been played. The performance stops at its peak moment, launching the audience's imagination in a way that extensions of the scene could never have accomplished.

Reviewed by dzondzon 7 / 10

Karloff as an extremely MAD scientist

I saw this movie over 35 years ago, as a child, late at night.It left a big impression on me and scared me to death. I recently saw it again and my earlier impressions were justified. Karloff tries to contact the soul of his dead wife using an apparatus comprised of metal helmets through which he directs psychic electricity. The whirling vortex of soul energy is a high point in the film. Karloff gets more and more creepily deranged as the movie goes on. Presumably the devil makes him do it. This film is really a well done minor gem. Fans of the mad scientist/laboratory genre will find much to enjoy. This film is a must for Karloff afficianados. It is unfortunately very difficult to find as it hasn't been on T.V.for years and no commercial video tapes exist. See it if you can!

Reviewed by kennethwright2612 8 / 10

Don't open that door!

Corny and cliche'd as The Devil Commands may look to the superficial gaze, it's a powerful expression of the inextinguishable and far from trivial human wish to believe that death is not the end and that the dead we loved are not forever lost to us. Karloff starred in a whole sub-genre of films on this theme from the middle 1930s to the early 1940s (cf The Invisible Ray, Before I Hang, The Man They Could Not Hang, etc), invariably as a misunderstood scientific genius, embittered by tragedy or injustice, whose desire to conquer death clashes fatally with the prerogatives of the Almighty.

Whether one believes in an afterlife or not, it would be a coarsely reductionist mind that could consider the subject ridiculous. What gives these films (and this one in particular) their eerily modernist slant on the matter lies in the way they reflect the public's awe of science in the first half of the twentieth century, when astonishing developments such as radio and television (and that weird form of immortality, the motion picture), made it seem believable that technology might solve the supernatural as well as the physical mysteries. It is worth remembering in this context that the contemporary electrical wizards Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, classical Mad Scientists both, attempted to build machines with which to talk to the dead.

In this morbidly obsessive cinematic byway The Devil Commands stands out as one of the most insidiously poignant and nearly blasphemous films of its kind, sailing very close to the emotional and spiritual wind in its depiction of Karloff's bizarre attempts to communicate with his dead wife. As a mad-scientist entertainment it contains some of the most magnificently deranged laboratory scenes ever filmed, surpassed in this context only by James Whale's Frankenstein and Bride Of Frankenstein. I still succumb to its mournful fascination. And if your first viewing doesn't scare you half to death, you can't be more than half alive.

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