Tagline – Foul Fingers Crimson with Dead Men’s Blood!
Starring – Boris Karloff (Cabman John Gray), Bela Lugosi (Joseph), Henry Daniell (Dr. Wolfe ‘Toddy’ MacFarlane), Russell Wade (Donald Fettes), Edith Atwater (Meg Cameron).
Released – May, 1945
Directed By – Robert Wise
Produced By – RKO Radio Pictures
Distributed By – RKO Radio Pictures
Description – It is 1831 in Edinburgh, Scotland and one year prior to the passing of the Anatomy Act which sought to end illegal trade in corpses, where Dr. Wolfe MacFarland runs a successful medical school.
Dr. MacFarland’s assistant, Donald Fettes, is hopeful that the surgeons skill can be used to help a young girl who has lost the use of her legs. For some reason, unknown to Fettes, the doctor is reluctant.
All the doctor’s time is spent on anatomical research with, what seems to be, a continual supply of fresh cadavers. Working so closely with Dr. MacFarland leads Fettes to learn that the doctor is paying Cabman John Gray to supply him with dead bodies.
Just how, and from where, are all the bodies coming from? Also, what is the hold that John Gray seems to have over Dr. MacFarland? I’t clear that the two have a history, but what is it?
The answers begin to surface with the revealing of a famous trial that took place many years ago when Gray was arrested for grave-robbing and refused to identify the doctor that was buying the bodies from him.
It looks like John Gray is using his silence to force Dr. MacFarland into continuing with payment for bodies illegally stolen by Gray. Could the kindly Dr. MacFarland be the monstrous doctor whose identity was protected by Gray? And, is he still a monster?
NOTABLE: The robbing of graves for selling idea portrayed in The Body Snatcher, though based on a fictional short story by Robert Louis Stevenson, was also greatly influenced by the 1828 crimes known as The West Port Murders where the corpses of 17 victims were sold to provide material for dissection.
The Body Snatcher was the eighth and last on-screen teaming of legendary horror stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.