Directed by Vincent Sherman [Other horror films: N/A]
I found this sequel-in-name-only to Doctor X an exceptionally pedestrian affair, and while it’s by-the-numbers approach isn’t going to hurt anyone, I suspect the only reason anyone even would seek this movie out is due to the fact it’s the sole horror movie with Humphrey Bogart in it.
There’s nothing in the film that I found particularly objectionable, it’s just that, by the late 1930’s, this was just stale. It doesn’t help that, along with having no connections to the superior 1932 Doctor X, this also wasn’t in color (unlike Doctor X), which made this an even more unremarkable film.
To be sure, I wouldn’t go as far as to call this movie soulless, which is a criticism I have against some modern horror cash-grabs, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the atmosphere you’d hope for, and save maybe one scene in the beginning, completely lacks any real suspense. Sure, there was that abduction of Rosemary Lane’s character at the end, but I wouldn’t really call any of that suspenseful, especially as we barely knew anything about Lane’s character.
Not that Lane did a bad job with her restricted role, of course, but almost no one in the film ended up wowing me. I guess that Wayne Morris and Dennis Morgan made a fair investigative pair (that scene when the two of them were following clues was decent), and I guess that John Litel is okay as a creepy doctor, and I even guess that Humphrey Bogart was good as the creepy Doctor X (or Quesne, pronounced ‘Kane’ believe it or not), but nothing about any of these performances seemed fresh or even all that inspired.
The Return of Doctor X is a fine movie to watch, and horror films the late 1930’s can be somewhat hard to come by anyways, so it may be a case of any port in a storm, but this isn’t a particularly good movie, and I don’t think about anything here stands out.
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