I watched this 1933 British horror film, released by Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, on Svengoolie. This is considered the first British horror film of the sound era, lost until a nitrate camera negative of the film in perfect condition was found in a forgotten film vault at Shepperton Studios. A rough, incomplete, subtitled, version had been used until this discovery in the 80s. Aga Ben Dragore, a knife-wielding, enigmatic Egyptian Arab, is seeking a sacred jewel that has been stolen from an ancient tomb.
The thief tells him that he sold it to Professor Morlant played by Boris Karloff, a fanatical Egyptologist who fervently believes in the pagan power of the ancient Egyptian gods. Dying from a mysteriously disfiguring ailment, Morlant entrusts his faithful manservant to bandage the jewel in his hand and warns him of dire consequences if his dying wishes aren’t carried out. .
After his burial in an Egyptian-type tomb on his estate, an anonymous robber steals the precious stone from the corpse. Although the ghastly-looking dead man rises at the next full moon to seek revenge, neither he nor the audience knows which member of the household possesses the powerful jewel
This was Boris Karloff’s fourth horror film but the first he’d made in Britain. The movie also stars Mr. Broughton, the Professor’s solicitor, played by Cedric Hardwicke (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Invisible Man Returns, The Ghost of Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The War of the Worlds),
Laing, the Professor’s clubfooted servant played by Ernest Thesiger (Bride of Frankenstein, Scrooge), Miss Betty Harlon, the Professor’s niece, and one of his two heirs played by Dorothy Hyson (American film and stage actress who worked largely in England. During World War II, she worked as a cryptographer at Bletchley Park),
Ralph Morlant, the Professor’s nephew and one of his two heirs is played by Anthony Bushell (The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Quatermass and the Pit), Miss Kaney, Miss Betty Harlon’s flatmate, and movie’s comic relief played by Kathleen Harrison (Oliver Twist, Scrooge, It’s a Wonderful World), and Sheikh Aga Ben Dragore, who sold the jewel to the Professor played by Harold Huth (British film actor, director, and producer).
The movie was directed by T. Hayes Hunter (The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Earthbound) and produced by Michael Balcon (Dunkirk, The Phantom Strikes, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Hound of the Baskervilles).
This was the first British movie to be labeled “horrific”. Also, note that the star Boris Karloff has less screen time than the other cast and he doesn’t have any lines after the opening bedroom scene. This is my first time seeing this movie and I thought it was pretty good. I’ll give it 3 out of 5 stars.