Before I Hang
A doctor is sentenced to death after committing a mercy killing. Before he dies he spends his last few days on experiments leading to injecting himself with a serum from a maniac. This leads to unintended consequences.
The Black Room
In the Black Room twin brothers are born to a ruling family with a supposed prophesy that the younger twin will kill the older in the infamous Black Room. The older twin Gregor inherits the title and mansion from the family. As leader Gregor develops a reputation as a tyrant that his people hate. Meanwhile Anton is loved and respected by the people. When the people’s hatred for Gregor gets to the point of threatening his life, he decides to use the recent arrival of his brother Anton to swap places and avoid the wrath of the people that want him dead.
The Black Room was originally released in 1935 and takes place in the 1800s. The movie is billed as a horror/thriller movie. While the movie may be considered a horror movie, I didn’t find the movie to be particularly scary. This is coming from someone that doesn’t watch many horror movies. This ends up applying to all of the films in this collection. Instead I would consider the movie to be more of a psychological thriller.
I would consider The Black Room to be a good but not great movie. The movie is not particularly scary or action packed. It is a pretty slow paced movie. There are some points where it drags a little, even though the entire film is only 68 minutes long. That said it does a good job as a psychological thriller movie. There are some interesting ideas in the movie and the story is pretty compelling. Boris Karloff also does a fantastic job in the role as the two twins.
If the premise interests you and you like psychological thrillers, I would recommend checking out The Black Room.
The Boogie Man Will Get You
Winnie Slade decides to purchase an old historic house to turn it into a hotel. After purchasing the property, Winnie allows the previous owner (a scientist) to remain on the property. Once the hotel opens up things don’t go as planned as guests start disappearing as the scientist continues his experiments on them. This leads to a pile of bodies in the cellar.
The Devil Commands
When his wife dies in an auto accident, Dr. Julian Blair becomes obsessed with contacting the dead. His research eventually brings results as he begins registering brain activity in a dead body. This encourages him to expand his research leading to deadly consequences.
In Five the world ends when atomic bombs decimate the Earth. Almost all of humanity is killed instantaneously. There are a few survivors though who must find a way to survive in this new almost empty world. While the survivors get along at first, things start to fracture as they have differing views on how they should proceed. Some want to stay safe in their current location, while others want to search the large cities for other survivors.
There are things that I liked about Five and there are things that I think could have been better. Probably the biggest issue I had with the film was that it can be slow at times. The movie is 93 minutes long. While that doesn’t seem that long, the movie does tend to drag at times. I honestly think the movie would have been better if it was a little shorter.
Despite the movie being a little slow at times, there are things that I liked about it. The movie is an interesting take on the post apocalypse genre. It was probably one of the first movies ever released in this subgenre. It is considerably more grounded than most as it doesn’t feature monsters/creatures. Instead it is more about how to survive when the world as you know it has basically ended.
If the premise interests you and you don’t mind some slow moments in a more grounded post apocalypse story, I think you should consider checking out Five.
The Man They Could Not Hang
Scientist Dr. Henryk Savaard believes he has figured out a way to bring people back from the dead. To prove his theory that his machine works, he has to do an experiment on a living test subject. He gets a volunteer and begins the procedure. While trying to bring the volunteer back to life, he is interrupted by the authorities and arrested for murder. Convicted and hanged, Dr. Savaard is brought back to life by his assistant with his machine. Vowing revenge for stopping his experiment and convicting him for a murder that he believes he could have prevented, Dr. Savaard vows revenge on all of those who betrayed him.
The Man They Could Not Hang is kind of interesting in that it somewhat predicted the future. Released in 1939, Dr. Savaard’s experiments actually bear similarities to machines that would be invented years later which today help with organ transplants.
While billed as a horror movie, The Man They Could Not Hang is more of a psychological thriller/horror movie. It is not scary in the slightest, but it does a good job setting a dark theme. The film is a weird mixture of genres where it feels like one part science/medical movie, one part legal/courtroom movie, and one part psychological thriller/revenge movie. The movie is a little slow at times (mostly at the beginning) despite its short runtime of 64 minutes. I enjoyed the film though because it has a compelling story with some interesting twists along the way. Boris Karloff is great in the movie as well.
If the premise sounds interesting to you and you like a good psychological thriller, I would check out The Man They Could Not Hang.
The Man With Nine Lives
Dr. Tim Mason is working on using cryogenics/freezing in treating patients. In his research he has been consulting a journey by Dr. Kravaal who had shown great success with the process before his sudden disappearance. Dr. Mason eventually visits Dr. Kravaal’s old abandoned house. While exploring he discovers Dr. Kravaal and a number of other men frozen in the basement. Dr. Mason successfully unfreezes all of the men and they come back to life. It turns out that the men were frozen 10 years earlier. Knowing his experiments were a success, Dr. Kravaal will stop at nothing to perfect the technique.
Just like with The Man They Could Not Hang, The Man With Nine Lives in a way also predicted the future of medicine. While not the most accurate portrayal, the film does involve cryogenics before it was really a thing in medicine.
The Man With Nine Lives in many ways is pretty similar to The Man They Could Not Hang. A scientist with a noble purpose in mind, goes to extreme lengths to try and achieve a medical breakthrough. The film has some slow moments despite only being 74 minutes long. The story is interesting though and has an interesting premise of being fictional, and yet having some basis in science. Boris Karloff is the star of the movie and does a good job.
If you find the premise interesting I think you will enjoy The Man With Nine Lives and should consider checking it out.
The Return of the Vampire
A vampire is terrorizing a town until they finally put it down with a spike through its heart. During World War II a bomb releases the vampire from its captivity. Now free to roam once again, the vampire is intent on getting revenge on those that attacked him years earlier.
Madness and Mayhem (36:17) – This special feature takes a look at horror movies released by Columbia in the 1930’s-1950’s. The special feature is quite detailed. If you are a fan of this era of horror movies or movie making in general, I think you will really enjoy this special feature.
The Black Room Audio Commentary – Features Dr. Steve Haberman
The Boogie Man Will Get You – Features The Monster Party Podcast featuring Larry Strothe, Matt Weinhold, Shawn Sheridan, and James Gonis
The Devil Commands – Features Tom Weaver
Five Audio Commentary – Features Tom Weaver and Larry Blamire
The Man They Could Not Hang Audio Commentary – Features C. Courtney Joyner and Heath Holland
Since all of the films in this collection were released from 1935-1951, all of them are in black and white. Thus you aren’t going to get the same benefit from high definition than you would from more modern films. For the most part I would say that the video quality for the set is pretty good. I did notice the video quality being better and worse in some areas. I am guessing this is due to the quality of the film that was still available. There are also some occasional issues with the picture typical of movies of this age. This is not all that surprising with movies that are between 70-90 years old.
For a lot of the films in this set, the video quality is probably the best you are going to get due to the movie’s age and the fact that they aren’t such classics that they would get full remasters like true classic films of the era.
Buy Thrillers From the Vault 8 Horror Films: Amazon
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Thrillers From the Vault 8 Horror Films Blu-ray used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.