powered by AFI
While working in his laboratory, Dr. Meirschultz declares to his assistant, Don Maxwell, that he is ready to test his revitalizing serum on a human corpse. Maxwell, a former vaudeville impersonator, refuses the doctor's request to steal a body, but Meirschultz, who knows that Maxwell is wanted by the police, forces him to go to the morgue with him and impersonate the coroner. At the morgue, Meirschultz injects the body of Maria Altura with his serum and watches with delight as she stirs to life. In spite of his medical triumph, Meirschultz insists that another corpse, one with a "shattered heart," be revivified. When Maxwell fails to procure a body from a mortuary, Meirschultz hands him a gun and orders him to kill himself. Instead Maxwell murders Meirschultz, then alters his appearance to impersonate the mad doctor. Inspired by his gruesome transformation, Maxwell raves about the "gleam" of life, which he perceives in the eyes of the "ambitious." Soon after, a disguised Maxwell treats a mental patient named Buckley, who has been brought in by his wife. Maxwell prepares a harmless syringe to inject into Buckley, but accidentally administers a needle filled adrenalin, which drives his patient to violent hysterics. While the raging Buckley sexually assaults a still dazed Maria outside of the doctor's home, Mrs. Buckley stumbles on the half-hidden body of Meirschultz. Cornered, Maxwell confesses that he killed his "assistant" for scientific purposes. The cold-blooded Mrs. Buckley asks the "doctor" to kill her husband and bring him back to life as her docile slave, or be reported to the police. Before Maxwell can test Meirschultz's formula and transplant a heart into the doctor's body, however, Satan, the doctor's black cat, eats the specially prepared organ. Furious, Maxwell chases the cat around the house, plucks out its "gleaming" eye and eats it, then encloses Meirschultz behind a brick wall. At this same time, Maxwell's estranged showgirl wife Alice, who has learned that Maxwell has inherited a fortune, shows up at the doctor's door. As Meirschultz, Maxwell instructs Alice to return that night, aware of her obvious greed. Before Alice returns, Maxwell tells Mrs. Buckley that if she wants him to kill her husband, she has to help him move a female patient. After Maxwell gives Mrs. Buckley a needle to use in case the "patient," Alice, becomes unruly, he gives Alice, who now knows his identity, the same instructions in regard to Mrs. Buckley. Maxwell then orders both women to go to the basement and, with a hideous giggle, slams the door behind them. While the women claw at each other in the dark, Maxwell's gleeful hysterics are observed by Goof, his cat breeder neighbor, and the police storm the house. After breaking up the women's fight, the cries of Satan, who has crawled behind the wall with Meirschultz's body, alert the police to Maxwell's crime. In his jail cell, Maxwell howls about the "gleam" and his greatest impersonation--Meirschultz.