Honeymooning in Hungary, Joan and Peter Allison share their train compartment with Dr. Vitus Verdegast, a courtly but tragic man who is returning to the remains of the town he defended before becoming a prisoner of war for fifteen years. When their hotel-bound bus crashes in a mountain storm and Joan is injured, the travellers seek refuge in the home, built fortress-like upon the site of a bloody battlefield, of famed architect Hjalmar Poelzig. There, cat-phobic Verdegast learns his wife's fate, grieves for his lost daughter, and must play a game of chess for Allison's life.Written by
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The best of the collaborations between Karloff & Lugosi. The production values are high and Karloff's makeup is excellent. There is a lot going on it the script-- perhaps too much, as the script is a bit confusing and sometimes pointless. But the atmosphere is thick and the "aura" hangs over the movie like a dense mist. There is more horror implied than actually seen. This movie has black magic, a man skinned alive, treachery, phobia, and a chess game with lives at stake. Mostly, it has great performances by Karloff and Lugosi in their one and only film appearance as equals (without one dominating the other). Truly, this is one of the finest Universal horror classics and will deliver everything a fan of such fare could possibly want.
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