Pillow of Death

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Mystery/Horror, USA, 1945, 66 min.

Tagline HATE! Crawling back from the grave!

Synopsis Wealthy spinster Belle Kincaid gets into an argument with her brother Samuel about a possible romantic relationship between their niece, Donna Kincaid, and her married employer, Wayne Fletcher, a lawyer. That night, Wayne tells Donna that he is planning to leave his wife Vivian, then returns home to learn that she has been murdered by asphyxiation. Julian Julian, Vivian's psychic, accuses Wayne of the murder, but the lawyer argues that his wife had been obsessed with suicide ever since she met the psychic. Despite his protests, Wayne is arrested by Captain McCracken, who then goes with Julian to question the Kincaids. Belle tells the policeman that she had been with Vivian the afternoon of her murder, and suggested to her that she have Donna discharged. During this interrogation, McCracken catches Bruce Malone, the Kincaids' neighbor and Donna's rejected suitor, peeping in the window. Later, sounds are heard in the Kincaid attic, which Belle and Samuel argue is the spirit of "Uncle Joe," a disgraced relative. All go to investigate, and McCracken discovers that the ghost is actually a frightened raccoon. Soon thereafter, Wayne is released from custody for lack of evidence. Belle and her cousin Amelia then arrange a seánce with Julian, during which a voice claiming to be Vivian accuses Wayne of being her murderer. Wayne, however, finds Bruce hiding in the next room, and accuses his rival of conspiring with Julian to frame him for his wife's murder. That night, Wayne is haunted by Vivian's voice, which he follows from their home to her crypt in the local cemetery. The next morning, Amelia finds Samuel murdered, smothered to death in his sleep. Under police questioning, Wayne tells how he followed his wife's voice to the cemetery, and a check of the Fletcher tomb reveals that Vivian's body is missing. Wayne then argues that his wife may still be alive, working in cahoots with Julian. Later, Donna tells McCracken that her uncle was having Julian investigated, and had discovered that the psychic once worked as a ventriloquist. Belle is then murdered, and Julian turns himself over to the police, knowing that he is now McCracken's chief suspect. Crazed by the series of murders and Julian's arrest, Amelia locks Walter and Donna in a closet, planning to gas them to death, but Julian is released by the police just in time to rescue them. Because of his calming influence on Amelia, Julian is then allowed to stay the night at the Kincaid home. Meanwhile, Wayne and Donna begin their own investigation of the house, and they find Vivian's body in the cellar. Bruce then admits to stealing the body in hopes of coercing a confession from Wayne. That night, Donna discovers Wayne having another conversation with his deceased wife in Samuel's bedroom, during which he confesses to the series of murders. Coaxed by Vivian's imagined voice, Wayne attempts to kill Donna, but she is rescued by Bruce and McCracken. Obeying Vivian's commands, Wayne jumps out the bedroom window to his death. Later, Donna and Bruce are united, and Julian is thanked by McCracken for his help on the case.

Directed by Wallace Fox  

Starring Lon Chaney Jr., Brenda Joyce, J. Edward Bromberg, Rosalind Ivan, Clara Blandick, more...

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