Dr. Cadmans Secret (The Black Sleep) (1956-USA)
Dr. Cadmans Secret (The Black Sleep) (1956-USA)
Dr. Cadmans Secret (The Black Sleep) (1956-USA)
Directors: Reginald Le Borg
Runtime: 82 minutes
User Rating: 4.0000 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

(1956-USA). With BASIL RATHBONE, AKIM TAMIROFF, LON CHANEY JR., JOHN CARRADINE, BELA LUGOSI, TOR JOHNSON. A parade of Hollywoods top horror stars appears in this fast-paced and exciting tale of a mad doctor who performs brain surgery on unwilling victims. The story begins in a dark cell of Newgate Prison in London of 1872. Sir Joel Cadman is an eminent surgeon who is visiting Dr. Gordon Ramsey, a former student who has been condemned to death by hanging for murder. The execution is set for the following morning. Cadman puts a potion called "the black sleep" into a cup and instructs Ramsey to take the drug early the next morning. The drug suspends Ramseys life functions and he is declared legally dead. With the help of a conniving gypsy named Odo, Ramseys "corpse" is delivered to Cadmans offices where he is revived. In appreciation of this gift of life, Ramsey agrees to assist Cadman in a series of experimental brain surgeries. They travel to a remote gothic castle where Cadman introduces his new associate to a most fearful bunch of characters. There is a deranged cretin (acted with all the right moves by Lon Chaney) and a frail mute servant (played by a weakened and elderly Bela Lugosi just a few months before his death). Another resident (played by John Carradine at his most outrageous) is a raving lunatic who thinks he is fighting the Crusades. One scream follows another as some of these unfortunates find themselves the unwilling subjects of Cadmans inhuman endeavors in this unholy house of terror. 82 minutes.
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Mr. Ae Rayner | 5 out of 5 Stars!
09/06/2010

This hysterical 50's schlock just got aired on UK's TCM cable channel, so those with SKY + & a dvd recorder should be thrilled! The wonderfully cadaverous Basil Rathbone excels but Akim Tamiroff steals the show with his performance as a multi lingual Romanian 'procurer'! I'd love a dvd with out takes & audio commentary but one can only dream!
Karloff | 4 out of 5 Stars!
12/10/2009

Wither the Brain? Dr. Cadmus Obsession!

This film must have had every single cliché ever written & shown on the silver screen. The dark, brooding castle. The mad scientist with a brave plan. The unsuspecting assistant. The dungeon where the victims (uh, patients) of The Good Doctor lie, chained to walls. The secret passages. The Dark & Gloomy Night!

But alas, the butler did not do it. But I digress.

The story begins amidst swirls of fog and deep night: There is a drug that will put a man to sleep that will simulate death and he must be given the antidote within 12 hours or else he dies. This has been known since the Veda and Sanskrit writings, don'tcha know. How the guy who first found this out and how he discovered the antidote while his pals were "sleeping" the big black sleep is not explained.

Dr. Cadmus uses this black sleep drug to get his surgeon pal out of prison, who is awaiting the gallows. Seems someone set him up for a murder he did not commit. Gosh, I wonder who did that??

Awaking from a coffin, the good surgeon, Gordon Ramsey is so in Cadmus' debt that he wants to help any way he can. Perfect.

The secret room where I perform surgery is this way!

Mongo (Lon Chaney, Jr.) is running loose, choking women and throwing men aside like ragdolls and can only be controlled by a creepy woman who holds out her hands and makes him stop.

Bela Lugosi plays a butler and has no speaking part. Oh, he's mute.

Cadmus (played straight by Basil Rathbone) is experimenting on people to eventually find a way to cure his wife of a brain tumor from which she has been paralyzed and in a coma for many months. Talk about a do-it-yourself kinda guy!

Those that he experiments on all become a little loopy, and so are chained to walls in a dungeon - into the secret passage, turn left, right there, pal.

John Carradine steals the show as a screaming looney who wants to free his people from Egyptian bondage.

And don't miss our Ed Wood big star from Plan 9, Tor Johnson! And more frightening, he has no speaking part! In fact, Lugosi and Chaney have no speaking parts, either!

The film is scary stuff and just the thing for that cold Halloween night!
Setmose | 3 out of 5 Stars!
06/06/2007

"The Black Sleep" has just about every one of the 1st generation of classic horror stars in it, a kind of "last hurrah" for some of them, before Hammer Studios reinvented the genre with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing (2nd generation). The plot, such as it is, moves along. Some nice icky poking around in brains shots. Basil Rathbone remains professional despite the material and gives an excellent, sharp performance as always. But it is John Carradine who steals the show.

The Lon Chaney Jr. character Mongo was recycled in Mel Brook's "Blazing Saddles". I didn't get the reference until I saw this film.

"The Black Sleep" is classic, campy, B&W gothic horror from the 50s. Worthwhile.
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