(Review originally written at 14 April 2008)
This is one excellent piece of psychological horror/thriller, from director Robert Wise.
This movie has a great story, that is brilliantly acted out by its actors. The story is based on Robert Louis Stevenson novel, that is inspired by the true historical story of the grave robbers turned murderers Burke and Hare. The movie features lots of psychological thriller elements, which makes this movie also a rather special one for its time. This is not a horror movie necessarily but it nevertheless breaths the same atmosphere, which still makes it right to regard this a bit as an horror movie.
It's a movie that not just relies on its atmosphere but also really its characters. The characters play the central role within this movie and the movie shows the slow and steady transformation from good till evil.
When you have in your cast both Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi of course all other actors are going to be overshadowed by their presence. However not Henry Daniell, who was surprisingly great. He isn't that well known but did quite a few good movies back in the '30's and '40's. Boris Karloff always has been sort of underrated for his acting skills. In this movie he really plays one of his finest roles, perhaps even his very best. The Lugosi role is quite small within this movie actually but it's always something special to see Lugosi and Karloff together on screen. This movie marked their last screen teaming.
The movie is greatly told and director by director Robert Wise. It was one of his earlier movies and showed a great premise of things yet to come. He always had the tendency of doing genre movies differently. This movie is very different from horror movies from the same decade, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was a very different science-fiction movie from any of the other genre movies made during the same time period, just to name a couple of examples. It makes his movies always very original and unexpected ones and because of that also often great movies to watch.
A truly recommendable movie.