I love pre-code movies. Those are movies made from 1929 to 1934 when the Motion Picture Production Code was put in place and enforced. Until then it was kind of a wild west for movies. Nothing was too taboo.
Enter 1932’s Doctor X. For the past several months when the moon is full, horrific murders have taken place. And to make matters worse each body has been cannibalized after they’ve been killed. The killer has been described as a monster. Reporter Lee Taylor (Lee Tracy) has been trying to get a scoop on the story. Doctor Xavier (Lionel Atwill) is called into examine the latest victim and Doctor Xavier’s colleagues at the university have been placed under suspicion. In order to avoid a scandal Xavier convinces the police let him hold his own investigation.
With a deadline of 48 hours (that’s all the police will give the good doctor), Xavier assembles the suspects. Wells (Preston Foster), is an amputee who studies cannibalism. And then there is Haines (John Wray), Duke (Harry Beresford) and Rowitz (Arthur Edmund Carewe). Haines and Rowitz were in a shipwreck and are suspected of eating the other survivor in their lifeboat and Duke is a grouchy old man in a wheelchair. Xavier has invented a device that monitors the subjects heart rate to determine who is lying. Yup a lie detector except this one is as big as room with a giant monitoring device.
Xavier begins the questioning by having his servants act out the murders and watches to see who gets excited. Meanwhile Lee has broken into the house to see if he can find out who the killer is and runs into the good doctor’s daughter Joan (Fay Wray). Meanwhile someone in the house is the real killer.
Shot in two-strip technicolor the film is moody, entertaining and creepy. The ending is excellent and horrifying. Here’s my original post.