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Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 Main

Universal Horror Collection Volume 4: The Climax Blu-ray Review

Written by Robert Gold

Blu-ray released by Scream Factory

Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 Large

Directed by George Waggner
Written by Curt Siodmak and Lynn Starling
1944, 86 minutes, Not Rated

Boris Karloff as Dr. Hohner
Susanna Foster as Angela Klatt
Turhan Bey as Franz Munzer
Gale Sondergaard as Luise
Thomas Gomez as Count Seebrook
Jane Farrar as Jarmila

Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 13 Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 14


Dr. Hohner is the aging theatre physician at the Vienna opera house, haunted by the memory of his lost love, the diva Marcellina. Ten years ago, following a command performance for the king, she disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Now, with the arrival of promising young singer Angela Klatt, theatre manager Count Seebrook believes he has found the new headlining prima donna. Her voice matches Marcellina’s perfectly and while everyone else is celebratory, Hohner broods and hatches a devious plan. While under the pretense of examining Angela’s throat following a performance, he subjects her to hypnosis and commands her never to sing again.

Angela’s fiancée and fellow musician Franz Munzer worries about her health as she begins experiencing vocal problems during a performance for the press. Seebrook taps rival diva Jarmila as understudy for the upcoming opera and places Angela under Dr. Hohner’s care at his private residence. Hohner’s housekeeper Luise suspects he had something to do with Marcellina’s disappearance and doesn’t trust him with Angela. After a few days, Franz grows more concerned and pays a visit while the doctor is away. He finds her in a daze and with Luise’s help, he sneaks Angela out the back. Can the singer escape the debilitating mind-control powers of a jealous man, and what exactly is he hiding in the locked room at the top of the stairs?

Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 15 Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 16

In 1943, Universal Pictures released the high-profile Technicolor remake of The Phantom of the Opera. The film features lavish sets, beautiful costumes and grand musical performances. Following its success, the studio went into production on a companion piece titled The Climax, which also focuses on drama at the opera house. Phantom’s leading lady Susanna Foster was signed to play the starring role of Angela Klatt, another up-and-coming singer. The legendary Boris Karloff (The Body Snatcher) appears as the villainous Dr. Hohner, who uses mind control to stifle Angela’s talents. There are fine performances from supporting players, including Turhan Bey (The Mad Ghoul) as Angela’s fiancée, Franz, and Gale Sondergaard (Hollywood Horror House) as Luise.

Despite the steady hand of director George Waggner (The Wolf Man), The Climax is a bloated mess. The film crams four musical numbers into the first twenty minutes and keeps a few more in reserve for the finale. Boris Karloff may be playing the heavy, but once again, this is not a horror movie and doesn’t really fit within this collection. Sure, it’s Karloff’s first color film and it has a tenuous connection to Phantom of the Opera – recycling sets and costumes – but this is a melodrama masquerading as a psychological thriller. The most surprising part of this picture is Karloff’s underwhelming performance. There are no traces of the sympathetic touches he usually brings to his characters; instead, he is merely going through the motions and the results are disappointing. Fans of the actor will want to view it once out of curiosity, but that will be more than enough.

Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 17 Universal Horror Collection Volume 4 18

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