It’s that time of year again. The leaves have started falling, the temperature is dropping and Halloween is around the corner. Time for another round of 31 Days of Horror. Starting things off is this 1943 thriller. Not to be confused with the much more popular Stephen King novel series, this film is about a struggling circus run by Ben Lyon and his brother David Farrar. They hire Herbert Lom to help the business. Lom is a wandering vagrant who also happens to be a hypnotist by the name of Torg. You just know he’s going to become an evil hypnotist with a name like Torg. But his power comes in handy when he needs to control a lion who has escaped, which in turn, lands him the job at the circus. David Farrar’s wife, Anne Crawford, has a high wire act and the idea is suggested to have Lom hypnotize Crawford so she can perform even more dangerous stunts.
The stunts are a success and the circus is suddenly profitable. It’s not hard for it to be the highlight of the show when other acts include synchronized bicycling. Naturally Lom’s success goes to his head and it puts him in conflict with the rest of the circus. He won’t help set up or tear down the circus much to the irritation of rest of the gang. He also falls in love with the married Crawford and starts fighting with Crawford’s husband Farrar. It’s good thing Lom is a hypnotist with a sinister name like Torg.
Herbert Lom just recently passed away at the age 95. Lom was just starting his career when he starred in this thriller. He later went on to star in Hammer Films version of The Phantom of the Opera and more famously and former Chief Inspector Dreyfuss in the Pink Panther series. Here Lom is quietly sinister and though he doesn’t get top billing he steals the show.