Spookoween 2016: 31 Days of Horror, Part III

More old dark houses with terrible secrets, love gone wrong, love gone even more wrong, ghosts and a little boy possessed, saps caught in something they don’t understand, another game of death, a woman who might be mad, incest, possession, another puzzling bit of Orientalism, fancy secret cults, terrible psychiatrists, women deadly in their desire and desirability, young Alan Napier, sinister cults of the upper classes, cats not liking people, a killer in a pet store. And we add Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” the November Group, references to Bluebeard and John Donne.

Part I includes: Prevenge (2016); Veerana (1988); Vincent Price’s reading of “The Stone King”; Peeping Tom (1960); Misty magazine; The Outer Limits‘ episode, “The Galaxy Being”; Young Frankenstein (1974); Dracula’s Daughter (1936); Son of Dracula (1943); The Purge: Election Year (2016); It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955); The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967); Crimson Peak (2016); and, The Vampire Lovers (1970).

Part II: The Bat (1926); Candyman (1992); The Invisible Man Returns (1940); The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944); Adventure Time, “Ghost Fly”; The Moth Diaries (2011); Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2010); Breaker High (1997); Eye of the Devil (1966); The Innocents (1961); “Whistle and I’ll Come to You” (1968).

Part IV: The Black Scorpion (1957); “Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula”; “The Stone Tape” (2015); Dak Bangla (1986); “The Ring” (2016); Trouble Every Day (2001); Blood and Roses (1961); and, The Brainiac / Baron of Terror / El Barón del Terror (1962).

Oct. 20. I watched Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) and The Raven (1935) as part of Drive-In Mob’s celebration of Béla Lugosi’s birthday. And these happen to be two of my favorite films. I try to watch The Black Cat every holiday season. It never gets less sordid and disturbing. A newlywed couple Peter Alison  (David Manners) and Joan Alison (Julie Bishop / Jacqueline Wells) are honeymooning in Hungary. On the train they meet Dr. Vitus Werdergast (Béla Lugosi) when their cabin is overbooked. They end up sharing their car to Budapest with Dr. Werdergast who is on his way to visit “an old friend,” Hjalmar Poelzig (Boris Karloff).

Their car crashes and Jo is injured. Vitus and his servant Thamal (Harry Cording) take the Alisons to the Brutalist grandeur of Poelzig’s house, built on the remains of a WWI fortress. Poelzig, like his namesake Hans Poelzig, is a gifted architect. (As far as I know Hjalmar did not work on UFA sets like Hans Poelzig, who worked on Der Golem, wie er in der Welt kam (1920). But Hjalmar Poelzig is so much more. He’s the former commanding officer of the fortress and he betrayed his men, including Vitus, to the enemy. While Vitus suffered in a prison camp, Hjalmar told Vitus’ wife, Karin, and daughter, also named Karin, that Vitus had died. He married Karin, and when she died, he raised her daughter and then married his step-daughter/nemesis’ daughter. Probably Satanically. And he also has a basement full of the preserved bodies of the women he has “loved.” Vitus believes both his wife and daughter are dead. He has come to find out what has happened to them and to take revenge on Vitus.

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Peter seems largely oblivious to all this and blunders his pleasant blandness into the midst of a very sinister talk between Vitus and Hjalmar. And, in one of my favorite moments of the film, both suddenly shift from menacing each other meaningfully to pleasantly offering Peter a drink and ironically praising one another’s accomplishments in a way that only old friends who have wartime betrayal, a dead family, differing feelings about cats, and necrophilia come between them. Must keep the children out of this. And then Jo somnambulates into the room in her tastefully flouncy trance gown. Vitus had administered a “powerful narcotic” to help her rest after the shock of the accident. Hjalmar is obviously sizing her up for a new glass case in the basement. And so, of course, Hjalmar and Vitus, play a little game of chess for Alison. When Vitus loses, Hjalmar locks Jo in a bedroom, has Peter imprisoned, and gathers his congregation for a ritual involving Jo and a puff-sleeve dress. The Black Cat ends in a scene that I still find horrifying and more horrific then many other more graphic horror movies I’ve seen since. Vitus and his servant tie Hjalmar to a rack (probably the same one he uses to drain his victims) and Vitus begins to skin Hjalmar alive.

I am still amazed that The Black Cat got away with all that it did:  Satanism, necrophilia, incest, flaying.

Angela Englert has a great piece on The Black Cat (1934) and adaptations of Poe at the Gutter: “Dead Ladies in Nightgowns are always Poetical.” Nitrate Diva’s piece on The Black Cat is fantastic. You should read them both.

The Raven (1935) is an interesting blend of old dark house movie (The Cat and the Canary; The Old Dark House) and mad surgeon in love movie (Mad Love). Brilliant surgeon and Edgar Allan Poe superfan Dr. Richard Vollin (Béla Lugosi) is smitten or monomaniacally obsessed with dancer Jean Thatcher (Irene Ware). When Jean has a terrible car accident and only Dr. Vollin can save not only her life, but her ability to dance. Her father, Judge Thatcher (Samuel S. Hinds), begs Vollin to save her, but Vollin refuses, telling the man, “Death hasn’t the same significance for me as it has for you.” When the judge mentions that everybody says that Vollin is the only one who could save her, Vollin agrees.

Vollin seems to fall for Jean while she lies unconscious on the operating table. After the operation, Vollin and Jean grow closer. Vollin plays Bach on his organ for Jean, expressing his passion and love through, “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.” He shows her his collection of Poe-themed torture devices and tells her that the raven is his talisman because “Death is my talisman.” Jean seems to like the organ, but it’s hard to say for sure because shes sits very trance-like. When Vollin tries to get some sugar or says that he got her fiance Dr. Jerry Holden (Lester Matthews) a good job because he didn’t want Jerry to have nothing when Vollin takes Jean, she’s all, “Ooops, gotta go!”

During Jean’s triumphant return to the stage, her father, Judge Thatcher, notices Vollin’s response to Jean’s performance. He decides to stop by Vollin’s house and play the old, “We all care about Jean, so’s how about you encourage her to stay with Jerry” card. But Jerry doesn’t even know about “The Raven,” man, how can he really know about love? And Jean, doesn’t she know she could be Vollin’s Lenore?

Meanwhile, Edmond Bateman (Karloff) has sought out Vollin. He’s an escaped convict and probably werewolf and believes he can only start over with a new face. He believes his ugliness (and seriously, he’s not ugly, just furry) has left him with few choices in life but to become a monster as society expects. Unfortunately, he’s inspired Vollin. “Your monstrous ugliness breeds monstrous hatred. Good! I can use your hate,” Vollin says.  Vollin quickly agrees, but instead of making Ed look like a different man–or concealing his lycanthropy–Vollin disfigures Ed. Vollin tells Ed that he can fix what he has done, but he will only do so if Ed helps him enact his revenge against those who have frustrated his love. “When a man of genius is denied his great love he goes mad.”

And so Vollin announces a dinner party and invites Jean, Jerry, Judge Thatcher and some other people including a comic relief couple and Mr. Atoz (Ian Wolfe) from Star Trek. Vollin entertains the guests with a gambling over a horse racing game run by foot pedal. And then, over drinks, he talks to them of Poe and torture. That night, he sets his plan in motion. He will remove the torture of love from his head by torturing the Judge, Jerry and even Jean.  Love his driven him mad, he tells the assembled victims, and by torturing them he will become sane. “I am the sanest man that ever lived, but I will not be tortured. I tear the torture out of myself by torturing you.”

It turns out, however, that Ed has his limits and squishing a young couple is right at that limit for him. Or maybe it’s just how much Vollin likes torture.

Oct. 21. I’m trying to catch up Blochtober at the H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. This episode included Robert Bloch’s stories, “The Secret in the Tomb” and “The Suicide in the Study.” Bloch is 17 and imitating H.P. Lovecraft in, “The Secret in the Tomb.” There are a lot of adjectives and wizards have upgraded their look from dusty old robes to purple dressing gowns. You know who has a purple robe now? Me. I call it my “Vincent Price Robe.” But that doesn’t mean I’m a wizard, so don’t go getting any ideas. However, I missed the second story because…

I watched another Ramsay Brothers movie with Beth from Beth Loves Bollywood. This time she suggested, Tahkhana (1986). As in Veerana and Purana Haveli, there is an ancient mansion with a basement full of evil in it. This time, though characters call it “the basement,” the basement appears to be a cave beside the mansion. But it is full of evil. Evil and familial resentment. And this time, there is also a muscle man. Could Tahkhana be the Ramsay Brother’s Hercules in the Haunted World? (It’s probably as close as they get).

On his deathbed Thakur Surjeet Singh pointedly cuts his son Dhurjan out of his will, leaving the entire estate, creepy “basement” and all to his son, Raghuvir, the one who does not practice black magic and worship a “mud demon.” Then he dies. Dhurjan swears revenge and immediately goes about kidnapping his nieces, Sapna and Aarti. He’s stopped, but not before Sapna runs to an entirely different state in her panic. Dhurjan is imprisoned in “the basement” with a statue of the mud demon god and a glass casket containing the body of the mud demon he and his followers dug up in a Christian cemetery. (I assume the mud demon is in a Christian cemetery for one of two reasons: 1. Ooooo, exotic!; 2. Movie Christianity’s ritual power in containing demons.

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Twenty years later, the sisters are grown up and leading very different lives. But they still have pendants that when joined together show a map to a treasure buried near the creepy chamber of the mud demon god. Sapna (Sheetal)  is trying to pick up some work, but is harassed to death by Shahkal Sing (Imtiaz Khan), who then finds  the pendant while disposing of her body and decides to go treasure-hunting. Aarti (Aarti Gupta) is living a happier life with interesting outfits and the love of a dude who looks kind of like Mithun, Vijay (Kamran Rizvi). They decide to try to find the treasure using her half of the map and befriend a muscleman in a mesh shirt, Panna (Hemant Birje) and his special lady.

Next thing you know, Dhurjan thanks his god for keeping him alive for twenty years, but now Dhurjan says he’s ready to leave his body. Then he dies of an exploding skin condition. Everyone converges on the spooky basement and there is looming and harassing and feats of amazing strength and killing until Durga has had it with the mud demon god stomping around killing everyone.

Oh, and it has that stuffed leopard that stars in so many Ramsay Brothers movies.

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Oct. 22. On the recommendation of Keith Allison, I watched Genuine: A Tale of a Vampire / Genuine, die Tragödie eines seltsamen Hauses (1920). It’s a Robert Wiene that unfortunately exists in an incomplete form. Still it’s worth it for Fern Andra’s gleeful performance as Genuine, the creepiness of Lord Melo (Ernst Gronau) and his Orlock styles and tight high heels, Florian’s hair (Hans Heidrich von Twardowski) and César Klein‘s fantastic art design. Fern Andra was an American actress, an aerialist and an Allied spy in WWI. And Klein, like Hans Poelzig was associated with Berlin’s Novembergruppe.

It all starts with Percy’s dream as he falls asleep reading before a painting of Genuine. Percy is the nephew of Lord Melo. Genuine is a vamp in the 1920s sense–a femme fatale more than a creature who literally drinks blood. She is a pagan priestess who, we are informed, intitially hates cruelty. During a war between her people and another tribe, she is captured and sold into slavery. On his afternoon constitutional, Lord Melo sees her one day and decides he has to have her. He imprisons her in a violet-filtered Expressionist basement with an interesting tree. She pleads with him for his freedom, which he denies saying that here in the basement, everything is happy but above there is only suffering. He then leaves for his daily shave.

Genuine finally climbs the tree and finds her way out on the day that the barber’s nephew Florian and his fascinating hair are there to shave Lord Melo. Genuine makes Florian cut Melo’s throat and, when his servant of uncertain and problematic descent, “The Malay,” tries to attack him, she tells Florian that the man will obey anyone holding Melo’s ring. Florian, however, turns out to be a disappointment to Genuine. Perhaps his interesting hair lost its charm. After a brief dalliance in which Florian rubs his face on her, she asks him to prove his love by killing himself. Florian won’t, so she takes Melo’s ring and orders the servant to kill Florian and bring her proof of his death.

Around this time Melo’s son Percy (Harald Paulson) has arrived and he is much less disappointing to Genuine, but it’s hard to say for sure, because the print is incomplete. It ends just as Florian’s father Guyard (John Gottowt) has incited a mob against Genuine as a witch.

I love the costumes and set design. And I’m excited to learn more about Fern Andra. Her family were circus folk! She was a spy for the Allied Forces during WWI!

I also watched the season premiere of How To Get Away With Murder, which is always chilling. I would love Viola Davis’ Medea.

And I watched Harold Lloyd and Mildred Davis High And Dizzy (1926). Mildred Davis’ sleepwalking along the ledge of a hotel is pretty hair-raising.

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Oct. 23. “Are we going to live here forever?” hateful child Marco asks his mother in Mario Bava’s Shock / Beyond The Door II (1977). Marco (David Collin, Jr., presumably of the Collinsport Collinses), his mother Dora (Daria Nicolodi) and his mother’s second husband Bruno (John Steiner), which is how Marco describes his step-father: “Bruno’s not my father. He’s my mother’s second husband.”

Dora, Marco and Bruno have moved into the house Dora shared seven years ago with her first husband, Carlo. Dora had a breakdown after Carlo’s death and was treated in a sanitorium by Dr. Aldo Spidini (Ivan Rassimov) aka Carter from Bava’s Planet of Vampires, so completely trustworthy. Dora is obviously nervous and discovering a gigantic hand in between the cushions of the couch makes her moreso. Frankly, I don’t know how they missed the hand. It’s not something you could sit on comfortably. They’re certainly no princesses. The fact that it’s the Buddha’s hand (in the lotus mudra) doesn’t seem to make Dora feel any better. The fact that it seems to move by itself later on the film, makes me see why she’s nervous about it.

Bruno seems set on them living in Dora and Carlo’s old house, which is strange not only because it’s her ex’s house, but he Carlo seems to have died there, though they tell Marco that Carlo fell overboard on a boating trip. However, it’s not so creepy for Bruno. He’s a pilot and spends a lot of time away from home, leaving Dora and Marco alone together. Marco seems to get along alright with Bruno, except for the part where he chants, “Pigs! Pigs! Pigs!” late one night when Dora and Bruno are having sex on the stripetastic brown, yellow and green velour couch. And seems to move the Buddha hand around threateningly with his mind.

Dora spends so much time calling Marco’s name as he runs away in Shock, that I kept wanting to shout, “Polo!” And then there is a disturbing incident when Dora chases Marco and catches him. Marco lies on top of her and seems to simulate the very sex act he’d seen the night before. Dora is disturbed, but distracts Marco instead of talking to him. And they play more games.

Dora grows ever more upset with Marco and disturbing incidents in the house, like the piano seeming to laugh at her and roses out of nowhere, “One for each year we were together.”

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When Marco sees her kissing Bruno passionately at a party, he informs her, almost sadly, “Mama, I have to kill you.”

Marco seems pretty intent on it, even trying to kill Bruno by using some kind of sympathetic magic involving his swing, a picture of Bruno and Bruno’s airplane. Less metaphysically, someone leaves a razor blade between the keys of Dora’s piano. Marco cuts the throat of a doll that cries, “Mama” and pulls her wires out. He also sends an evil slinky down the stairs.

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When he is home, Carlo takes to doping Dora. I assume from her dreams that he’s using belladonna just like Philippe does to Catherine in Eye Of The Devil. I just think husbands should stop giving their wives belladonna, no matter how groovy the resulting dream sequence. And the dream sequence and the denouement make the whole film for me. I wasn’t sure if I liked it. I’m still not sure I do. But the last 20 or 30 minutes of Shock are amazing.

Oct. 24. “The Van Helsing Mysteries” opening credits created by Ed Glaser. I would watch this show not only every week, but several times a week.

I joined in on #CineMon’s livetweet of an episode of Boris Karloff’s Thriller, “The Man of Mystery” (1962). I suppose this is also a Blochtober entry, although I didn’t realize I was doing Blochtober. “The Man of Mystery” was a screen adaptation Bloch did of one of his own stories. Sherry Smith (Mary Tyler Moore) is a singer looking for a break and she thinks she finds it with millionaire man of mystery, Joel Stone (John Van Dreelen). Lou Walters (William Windom) is jealous and tries to find out the truth about Stone–eventually discovering that a man who had written a manuscript about Stone had been murdered. He interviews one of Stone’s exes who mentions something about “Bluebeard’s wives,” but Lou doesn’t catch the hint. And Sherry isn’t so sure about Stone’s assistant, Lucas (Walter Burke). He creeps her out, but all Stone say says, “I can’t blame him.”

It turns out that Lucas is really Joel Stone and the man Sherry thought was Stone was an actor who played the part Lucas felt he never could. In the creepiest adaptation ever of Pillow Talk, Sherry confronts Lucas/Stone and seems to be saved just in time by Lou. But pretty much everyone is a cad in this except Sherry and no one thought to talk to her about Bluebeard.

I spent the rest of the night coming up with ridiculous tweets based on the titles of Hammer’s Dracula films during TCM’s Dracula Marathon. I have saved them here in “Storify the Tweets of Dracula.”

Oct. 25. I started reading  Day of the Arrow (Valancourt, 2015) by Philip Loraine / Robin Estridge. It was adapted into Eye Of The Devil, and so far I prefer the film. I also got some sugar cookies decorated with bones. But they are sad bone cookies. So sad. So cute. So not tasty to me. On the upside, I watched an episode of Luke Cage. It is not seasonal, but it was good.

Oct. 26. I had been excited to see the Ghost Hunters filmed in Detroit’s Whitney House, “Phantom for the First Course.” The house was beautiful and interesting, but the episode was not very interesting to me. So I ended up doing a little research on the house.

Oct. 27. I started listening to “Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula” (1981) and decided to start reading the novel as well. Loren Estleman’s Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula was a much more successful decision than my initial attempt to read Day of the Arrow. Which was good because my plans to go see Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) (with organ accompaniment) fell through.

And there was a Drive-In Mob triple feature! I missed Mad Monster Party (1967), but came in at the end of House of Frankenstein (1944). Boris Karloff’s Baron Frankenstein is messed up. His plan to transplant the brain of a human into the body of a dog is still squicksome. And I don’t know why his jailors weren’t more concerned when he’s writing these plans on the wall. House of Dracula (1945) remains House of Dracula. Somehow I can see Ed Wood coming whenever I watch it. Not in a bad way, I can just imagine how much he loved it.

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Oct. 28. It’s a Val Lewton-produced, Nicholas Musaraca-shot cool lady and terrible psychiatrist double feature with Cat People (1942) directed by Jacques Tourneur and Mark Robson The Seventh Victim (1943). ( I took a brief break with Dracula (1931) but have written about them more extensively during last year’s 31 Days of Horror and at the Cultural Gutter). Kent Smith plays Oliver Reed and looks a lot like Buster Crabbe in a herringbone suit. Simone Simon plays Irena lonely Serbian fashion illustrator living in New York. They meet at the zoo as Irena is sketching a black leopard at the zoo.

As they grow closer, Irena tells Oliver the story of her village. She says they were evil and worshipped the devil. Eventually, the Serbian King John came and killed them. But the worst and most powerful fled. They were women who turned into cats whenever they were jealous or sexually aroused.She is deeply disturbed when, at their wedding banquet with friends at a Serbian restaurant, a woman who looks distinctly like a cat approaches her and calls her “my sister,” in Serbian. Irena believes the woman recognizes her as a sister catwoman. Oliver realizes that Irena really fears she will turn into a panther and kill him if they ever slept together. On the recommendation of his friend and co-worker, Alice (Jane Randolph), Oliver sends Irena to talk to Dr. Louis Judd (Tom Conway), terrible psychiatrist. Judd hypnotizes Irena and there is a swell dream sequence that Irena unfortunately does not remember. Judd believes he can help Irena. Irena is embarrassed by her beliefs and asks what she should tell Oliver. Dr. Judd replies, “What does one tell a husband? One tells him nothing.”

Irena comes home to find Oliver and Alice together. Alice asks her how the session went, and Irena is embarrassed and angry to find that Oliver has been discussing their marital difficulties and her belief that she is a cat person with Alice. Irena doesn’t see Dr. Judd again. Later, when they encounter one another outside the black panther’s cage at the zoo, Dr. Judd asks why she hasn’t. She tells him,”When you speak of the soul, you mean the mind and it is not my mind that is troubled.” Dr. Judd snidely responds that she’s the first person to determine the difference between a mind and soul, because Dr. Judd has his own issues with intimacy.

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Oliver increasingly turns to Alice for advice and help. Alice admits she loves Oliver, but she won’t do anything about it or cause trouble in his marriage because she’s the “new kind of other woman.” But she does, because Irena knows. In a gorgeously frightening sequence, Irena stalks Alice on the street at night and at the local YWCA pool. She tears Alice’s robe apart off-screen. The she appears pool side to ask Alice where Oliver is.

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Alice decides to believe Irena after she and Oliver encounter a panther at work. Oliver had decided to divorce Irena and marry Alice and that was too much for a cat woman to bear. Alice warns Dr. Judd to stay away from Irena, but he won’t listen, because he’s Dr. Judd. And he has a sword cane. Instead he decides she suffers from can be corrected by sex with him. (There’s a lot of corrective sex with a man to treat “frigidity” and “Lesbianism” at the time and there are implications in Cat People that Irena is either or both). And so Dr. Judd makes inappropriate–and very arrogant–advances on Irena. Irena promptly turns into a black panther and him. With his sword broken off in her chest, Irena returns to the panther cage and releases the animal within.

Cat People ends with a John Donne Quote and The Seventh Victim (1943) begins with a Donne quote.

“I run to death and death meets me as fast and all my pleasures are yesterday.”

Mary (Kim Hunter) is a student at a private school for girls. She’s been summoned to the school’s office. Her sister Jacqueline (Jean Brooks) had been paying her tuition, but the payments had stopped and her sister had disappeared. Mrs. Lowood (nice gesture to Jane Eyre) tells Mary she can stay on and work as a student teacher to pay her own tuition. But Mary is worried about her sister and decides to go to New York to find her. Young teacher tells her not to return. She lost her parents and stayed. Now she regrets hiding from the world. As Mary leaves, she overhears all the goings on in the school, including a class conjugating “cherchez,” to look or seek.

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In New York, Mary discovers that Jacqueline has sold her cosmetics company, La Sagesse (again, nice), to Mrs. Redi (Mary Newton), who turns out to be a devil worshipper. One of the workers suggests Mary try the Dante, a bistro/coffee house in the Village. There she meets the very nice, non-Satanic family who own the restaurant and they rent her a room above it. She also discovers her sister’s old room, #7, and it contains only a chair beneath a noose hanging from a light fixture. And she meets a poet, Jason (Erford Gage), sitting beneath a mural, right below Dante’s feet. Jason is smitten with Mary but believes he can never have her. Everyone in The Seventh Victim seems to have given up on the possibility that they can have what they want.

Since The Seventh Victim is also almost entirely constructed of secrets and surprises, Mary discovers her sister had a secret husband, Gregory, played by Hugh Beaumont, which was a surprise to me the first time I saw this film. As with Oliver in Cat People, Gregory is drawn to someone who isn’t good for him, though in this case he might not be good for Jacqueline. Married men with sinister women fall for wholesome ladies in both Cat People and The Seventh Victim.

Tom Conway returns as Dr. Louis Judd, terrible psychiatrist. But since the events of Cat People, he’s gained a reputation and possibly lost faith in himself as a doctor. “I’m sorry I don’t practice anymore,” Judd tells Mary. “I find it easier to write about mental illness leave the treatment of it to others.” Judd has gained a reputation for sleeping with his patients and possibly worse. “There was a girl on Barrow St. I saw her with you once. I saw her with you twice. I never saw her again,” Jason says to Judd. He answers, “She was a patient.”

But Judd is trying to do the right thing. It turns out that he is hiding Jacqueline from a secret group of Satanists, the Pallidists. Her membership in that group had triggered Jacqueline’s depression and she sought treatment from Judd. But speaking to an outsider sealed her fate. The NYC Pallidists had only two rules: non-violence; and “The law that whoever betrays us must die.” Judd tries to get Mary, Gregory and Jason to stop looking for her, but when he tells Jacqueline that her sister is looking for her, he reunites them. Still, it’s hard to say if you can trust a man who says, when faced with a set of two staircases that both lead to the same floor. “One can take either staircase. I prefer the left, the sinister side.”

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The Pallidists are understandably caught between the demand that they must remain non-violent and the demand that whoever betrays them must die. They try scaring Mary off. In a scene pre-figuring Psycho, Mrs. Reddi shows up in Mary’s bathroom as Mary showers, warning her to go home. They try to pressure Jacqueline into killing herself by drinking hemlock. But her perfect bangs will not be moved. She has longed for death and lived in a room readied for her to hang herself, but she will decide when she dies.

At the end of The Seventh Victim, Jacqueline encounters her neighbor, Mimi (Elizabeth Russell), in the hall. They’ve never met before because Mimi has been confined to her room. She tells Jacqueline that she’s dying but that she’s afraid to die. Jacqueline tells Mimi that she’s always wanted to die. Mimi says she isn’t afraid anymore. She’s going to go out and do all the things she used to do. When she leaves her apartment again, she’s dressed an awful lot like the cat woman Russel played in Cat People. And as she passes Jacqueline’s door on the way out, she hears a thump in the apartment as Jacqueline hangs herself.

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Like The Black Cat, it’s almost surprising to me that The Seventh Victim was made. Even Mary, the least dark character sings a nursery rhyme with the children at the kindergarten where she teaches. “Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.” Dr. Judd would consider it quite a morbid film, if Dr. Judd were not up to his neck in morbidity himself.

Still, I would watch The Dr. Judd Adventures. Episode 1: Dr. Judd makes inappropriate advances on a patient. Gets eaten when she turns into a panther. Episode 2: His reputation in tatters, Dr. Judd tries to protect a woman from a Satanic cult. It’s hard to tell if he succeeds or fails because even if it was a success, I think it would feel like a failure to Judd. The show would have a really short run, but the episodes would be as beautiful as Judd was insufferable.

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