MILL CREEK THRILLERS FROM THE VAULT: The Man With Nine Lives (1940)

Torn from the headlines! Both this movie and The Man They Could Not Hang on Dr. Robert Cornish, a University of California professor who brought a dog. named Lazarus back to life. After that became a big sttory, the university kicked out Cornish, who played himself  in the 1935 film Life Returns. Following a preview screening of the film, Universal pulled the film from general release and said that it was a “freak picture, not suitable for the regular Universal program.” In 1937, director Eugene Frenke won a lawsuit and got his film back, re-releasing it through Scienart Pictures a year later.

Dr. Tim Mason (Roger Pryor) is trying to convince his bosses that he can use cold therapy to heal patients, but they disbar him. He and his nurse Judith Blair (Jo Ann Sayers) travel to the abandoned home of the man who inspired him, Dr. Leon Kravaal (Boris Karloff), a genius who has been missing for more than a decade. That’s becaue he and five other men — one already dead — have been frozen all that time. Kravaal awakens and must figure out how to recreate the method he used to freeze everyone, even if that means experimenting on and killing everyone else.

Like all of Karloff’s mad doctor movies of this era, this was directed by Nick Grinde from a script by Karl Brown and Harold Shumate. With a tag like “He kills in the name of science…Tombs of ice for the living…Chambers of horror for the dead!,” I can see why audiences kept coming to these films. It’s also one of the few Hayes Code movies to allow the word cancer.

Mill Creek’s Thrillers from the Vault set also includes The Black Room, The Man They Could Not Hang, Before I Hang, The Boogie Man Will Get You, The Devil Commands, The Return of the Vampire and Five. There’s also a documentary, Madness and Mayhem: Horror in the 30s and 40s. You can get it from Deep Discount.

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