Weird Woman + Pillow of Death

Based upon the wildly popular 1940s radio series of the same name, Universal’s “Inner Sanctum Mysteries” were a series of six quickly-made hour-long marvels of supernatural-tinged intrigue, all featuring Lon Chaney, Jr. (star of The Wolf Man.) Join us in a double feature of Cinefamily’s favorite entries from this franchise!

Weird Woman – 2:00pm
Right from its introductory sequence of a floating head in a crystal ball extolling the inevitability of “murrrrderrrr,” Weird Woman is a fantastic example of wall-to-wall camp — a dark, twisty delight peppered with more hysteria than any cuckoo’s nest. L.C. Jr. is a brilliant, imposing sociology professor (from a university about which the film will not let us forget is entrenched in the study of Reason vs. Superstition!) Every woman is besotted with him — and every man is rabidly jealous. Returning from a South Pacific trip with an “exotic” island wife, trouble brews quickly, thanks to corrupt colleagues and their shrewish wives, a tarty, bookish T.A. with a temperamental boyfriend, and an evil old flame armed to the elbows with metaphorical gaslights. Though Chaney’s stellar as a monster, it’s wonderful to see him in a gripping, soapy thriller that delivers its absurd histrionics in voodoo-spouting spades.
Dir. Reginald Le Borg, 1944, 35mm, 63 min.

Pillow of Death – 3:15pm
Touting one of the strangest titles in vintage moviedom, Pillow of Death is, from start to finish, exactly the kind of lazy Sunday afternoon matinee programmer that one has fantasies about, when one thinks of “What exactly was it like to go see those old B-movies in a movie theater?” Ol’ dependable Lon is an attorney whose friends and family are plagued by a rash of pillow-smothering deaths. Since he’s the prime suspect, Lon turns to a fussy medium named Julian Julian(!) and his creepy séances in order to get to the sordid bottom of the whole affair. Delivering on the haunted house/metaphysical angle many times over, this lighthearted murderama cuts right to the chase — straight up until the mind-boggling ending, in which the culprit dispatches of themselves in the most head-scratching way possible. Liberally dosed with precious old-timey atmosphere, this is a rare title from the vaults that you’d be foolish to miss.
Dir. Wallace Fox, 1945, 35mm, 66 min.

Watch an excerpt from “Weird Woman”!