"I believe that this city is at the mercy of a madman whose body is an engine of destruction."
— Dr. Felix Benet
A scifi thriller from Universal, made in 1936.
Scientist Janos Rukh (Boris Karloff
) has discovered that in the past a powerful meteorite fell on Africa. He arranges an expedition to there, which includes his wife and a scientist collague Dr. Benet (Bela Lugosi
), among others. He researches the meteorite for a long time, which makes him lose his wife to another man
and later his health and sanity due to the radiation from it.
After his research is put to use without his consent, his frail mind snaps and he starts murdering those he deems to have wronged him with the killing touch he gained from the meteorite.
Some footage of the film would later be reused in Universal's The Phantom Creeps
Tropes in the movie:
- Artistic License: Due to being a sci-fi/horror flick of the 1930s, many branches of science are abused quite thoroughly.
- Bad Boss: At one point, Dr. Rukh threatens to melt all of the African tribesman helping him with his ray if they desert him. This is actually before he notices his Radium X poisoning, though whether or not it had already begun to affect him at that point is left ambiguous.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Dr. Rukh genuinely loves his mother, even after he goes insane. When she rebukes him for his action at the end of the film, he ends up agreeing with her that he should die.
- Eye Remember: Image of Dr. Rukh is left on Sir Francis's eyes when he kills him.
- Faking the Dead: Dr. Rukh kills an innocent man in Paris and mangles the corpse so that he can hide.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Diane and Ronald's romance is portrayed in an entirely positive light, as they try to avoid their feelings for each other, but ultimately fail due to The Power of Love. The fact that Dr. Rukh is a neglectful husband and loses his marbles doesn't hurt their case, either.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: Averted. Dr. Rukh has a conversation with a man in French, but it makes perfect sense for him to do so, as they're in Paris. However, pretty much every other conversation that takes place in Paris is in English, and Dr. Benet never once speaks a full sentence in his native language.
- Police Are Useless: The policemen screening the scientists coming to Benet's lecture check to make sure everyone has an invitation, but don't seem to grasp the concept of passing out photographs of the well-known scientist they're looking for. As a result, Dr. Rukh walks right in without even needing to disguise himself, because he has an invitation he stole a few minutes before.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Dr. Rukh waylays a fellow scientist on his way to Dr. Benet's lecture, offers him alcohol against the late night drizzle, and suggests that they move back into a sheltered area to drink it instead of just drinking it while walking. The man sees absolutely nothing wrong with this.
- Magic Meteor: The meteorite in Africa, that is made of Radium X.
- Mad Scientist: Rukh becomes one and starts melting church statues as part of a twisted revenge scheme.
- No Body Left Behind: After Dr. Rukh fails to receive the shot that preserves him, he runs through a window, jumps and turns into a dust mid-air.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dr. Benet is supposedly a Frenchman from Paris, but Bela Lugosi still speaks with his usual Hungarian accent.