Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre are a lot of fun to watch. Larry Parks is not. The movie wears after a while but it’s still worth sticking through it to see Boris and Peter whenever they appear.
Winnie Slade (Jeff Donnell) is crazy about an old tavern in a small New England town. Despite it’s condition she wants to buy it and turn it into a hotel. It’s owned by biochemistry professor Nathaniel Billings. He wants to stay on after the sale so he can continue his experiments in his basement lab. Winnie says okay. Housekeeper Amelia and her husband Ebenezer will also stick around.
Billings is putting the finishing touches on his experiment with Mr.Johnson. Thanks to a monkey wrench Johnson is carrying the experiment fails. Billings is trying to create an army of supermen to win the war but all he gets are dead men. It’s just another body for the wine cellar.
Dr.Arthur Lorentz (Peter Lorre) is the town coroner, sheriff, real estate agent and inventor of a hair restorer that doesn’t work. He shows up to close the sale. Showing up trying to stop the sale is Winnie’s ex husband Bill (Larry Parks) who is on his way into the army. A customer comes in. He’s J.Gilbert Brampton (Don Beddoe). He says he’s a ballet master looking for material to use in his next production. The sale is complete and Lorentz leaves.
A bit later Bill goes into the cellar and finds Mr.Johnson’s body. He grabs Winnie and they go to Lorentz in town and tell him there’s been a murder. He puts on his sheriff’s badge, grabs his cat and puts it in his pocket and they all leave for the tavern.
Lorentz wants to arrest Billings for murder. Billings tells him Johnson is his fifth failure and he’ll have to go into a secret room with the others. They’re all door to door salesman that didn’t work out in Billing’s grand plan. He tells Lorentz there’s money in supermen and that changes his mind. He’ll even invest. Later there’s a loud scream. Billings says it’s just the ghost of the last of the Mohicans. Bill tells Winnie everything is to get her to sell the place back to Billings for a low price.
A few days later another salesman (Maxie Rosenbloom) shows up. He sells powder puffs. He’s just what Billings is looking for. Meanwhile Brampton’s body is found with a knife in its back. Lorentz and Billings panic and call the police.
Two troopers (James C.Morton and Frank Sully) are on their way until a guard fires at their car when they go through a checkpoint. There’s a nearby munitions plant and no one is allowed through.
Things get more screwball as the movie progresses. If you’re a Karloff and Lorre fan you’ll still need patience to get through it all. Parks is way over the top with a manic performance that’s beyond annoying.
Larry Parks is best known for playing Al Jolson in “The Jolson Story” (1946) and “Jolson Sings Again” (1949).