01 September 2014

Corridors of Blood (1958)
86 min.
Directed by Robert Day.
With Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Betta St. John, Finlay Currie, Adrienne Corri, Francis De Wolff, Francis Matthews, Frank Pettingell, Basil Dignam.
In the years before the discovery of modern anesthesia, medical doctor Thomas Bolton (Karloff) searches for an answer to painless surgery. He develops an opium-based sedative - a form of nitrous oxide - but in the process becomes hopelessly addicted to the drug.

Drawn into a seedy underworld headed by unscrupulous tavern owner Black Ben (De Wolff) and slimy henchman Resurrection Joe (Lee), it's all Bolton can do to stay alive. But can he reap the fruits of his humanitarian efforts, or will he be forever enslaved by the murderous crimes of his newfound associates?

In Corridors of Blood, Karloff turns in one of the best performances of his latter day career; his Thomas Bolton is a tortured but sympathetic man, consumed by empathy for his patients, but doomed to failure by his inability to control the awesome power of the formula he's created.

De Wolff and Lee provide excellent support, seemingly spurred on by Karloff, and together the pair lend the effort just the right touch of dark villainy. The early Victorian London setting is masterfully recreated and used to great effect.

Director Robert Day (who also helmed The Haunted Strangler with Boris the same year) clearly knows how to suss the best out of his inimitable lead, not to mention the entire supporting cast, and the results are superlative. A winner all around.

Also known as Doctor from Seven Dials.

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