This is part of Scream Factory’s Universal Horror Collection Volume 2 Blu-ray. When all films have been reviewed, we’ll post a recap review encompassing all discs.
Looking for a noir-ish type thriller in your Universal Horror Collection? Well, you’re in luck with William Nigh’s The Strange Case of Doctor Rx, which sits very delicately on the cusp of what I would label “horror” and really dives into crime drama territory with – like most of the films in Volume 2 – a hearty dose of comedy infused. The film stars Patric Knowles as Jerry Church, a private eye who seems to be New York’s Sherlock Holmes since only he can solve the case of a mysterious murderer named Doctor Rx who has killed a bunch of Dudley Crispin’s (Samuel S. Hinds) clients – one even in a courtroom! Church has to track down the prescription-leaving murderer while also dealing with his new wife Kit (Anne Gwynne) and Capt. Bill Hurd (Edmund MacDonald), all of whom keep getting in the way of the investigation.
The Strange Case of Doctor Rx is a unique entry in this Universal HorrorCollection. As previously stated, it’s not exactly a horror film. It has a murder mystery element to it, but at no time does it truly venture into suspense. Instead, Nigh really plays up the gumshoe/smart-cracking detective aspects – Knowles in particular delivers some excellent smack talk, aided by Gwynne’s ability to give it right back to him in a nice display of blow-for-blow ridiculing. The film also features a number of weird “pranks” that actually obfuscate the impact of the murders even more; Church often gives bad information to the police, and likewise the police set him up without giving him all of their information. This leads to some wild goose chases throughout the film that pad the hour runtime.
With that said, The Strange Case of Doctor Rx moves along rather briskly and its murderous doctor figure is quite interesting despite stretching the film’s believability (people in this movie are often subject to being ailed by “fright” as though that’s some type of medical disease). While the film won’t scare or even cause tension for most viewers, it’s not a bad attempt at merging horror with the burgeoning noir genre in a pulpy yet comic movie that features an extremely small role for Lionel Atwill.
Scream Factory’s disc in the Universal Horror CollectionVolume 2 features an HD transfer of The Strange Case of Doctor Rx that does not notate any new scan. The results are akin to the previous film in this set, The Mad Doctor of Market Street – a fairly good scan with above-average depth, a medium grain body, featuring some softness in various scenes. Not a lot of damage to report, though. Also of note are some problematic blacks in darker sequences. Still, on the whole this is a fine, if unremarkable, transfer.
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track that features consistent dialogue levels and no major audible flaws. English subtitles are also included.
The Strange Case of Doctor Rx gets perhaps the most interesting extra feature of this collection, an interview with Gregory William Mank diving into the life and work of Lionel Atwill. It runs almost 20 minutes and covers a wide variety of his output including the three Atwill films in this collection. An image gallery is also included.
Our gallery of screenshots from each film in this release.
NEW Gloriously Wicked: The Life and Legacy of Lionel Atwill w/ Gregory William Mank (HD; 19:02)
Image gallery (no chapter breaks; 5:16)
The Strange Case of Doctor Rx is a fairly good horror/noir hybrid with a hearty dose of comedy thrown in. Scream Factory's transfer is unremarkable, but there's a nice extra feature about Lionel Atwill's body of work.