The Seventh Victim (1943)

“Weird pagan rites in secret dens of exotic mystery!” A young woman named “Mary Gibson” (Kim Hunter) leaves a boarding school to search for her missing sister “Jacqueline” (Jean Brooks) in New York City’s Greenwich Village and quickly discovers that Jacqueline may have fallen under the spell of a Satanic cult (the noose hanging from the ceiling in Jacqueline’s apartment was kind of a dead giveaway!). The apartment lies directly above “Dante’s” Italian restaurant (get it?). Creepy, bizarre and full of offbeat characters, this low-budget Val Lewton RKO production directed by Mark Robson cleverly blends horror, mystery and film noir. And with a 71-minute running time, the plot, which features both dreamlike and nightmarish qualities, moves along briskly. The cast includes Hugh Beaumont (Leave It to Beaver) as Jacqueline’s husband “Gregory Ward,” Erford Gage as struggling poet “Jason Hoag,” Tom Conway as the rather strange psychiatrist “Dr. Louis Judd,” Lou Lubin as private detective “Irving August,” Isabel Jewell as Jacqueline’s close friend (lover?) “Frances Fallon,” Evelyn Brant as one-armed dancer “Natalie Cortez” and Elizabeth Russell as dying prostitute “Mimi.” One of the most interesting and chilling aspects of the film is that the cult members are presented as ordinary members of society. The final scene is very disturbing. Gage enlisted in the U.S. Army at around the same time of the film’s release and was killed in action in Manila, Philippines on March 17, 1945.

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