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Magician and hypnotist Mr. Gregory is determined to perfect a state of suspended animation in which his body can remain in a death trance, not fully dead and not fully alive, but impervious to pain. At a performance of his tricks, Gregory meets John Randall, an amateur magic enthusiast, and his wife Ellen, with whom Gregory falls immediately and obsessively in love. Through a magic trick, Gregory gets a drop of Ellen's blood on a handkerchief and makes a voodoo doll with it. During a surprise party for Ellen, she admits to Gregory that he has an evil influence upon her. Then, placing Ellen in a trance, Gregory kisses her, and is caught by John. Gregory assiduously sends Ellen roses with notes saying that their union is inevitable and purposefully incites John's anger. Finally, John confronts Gregory at his home. In a plot to get Ellen for himself, Gregory goes into in a death trance and fakes his murder, framing John with a cuff link bearing his initials. After Gregory's "corpse" is buried, his faithful butler Riker releases him from the crypt. Gregory then forces Riker to write a note implicating John in the murder and strangles him. On the strength of Riker's letter, the district attorney arrests John. Masquerading as his fictitious brother, Lane Talbot, Gregory testifies on John's behalf, stating that Gregory had been an insane master of black magic. Although the jury recommends clemency, they find John guilty of murder. In the meantime, Gregory, as Talbot, has taken advantage of Ellen's gratitude for his support of John to get closer to her. His behavior makes Ellen's friend, Sheila Edwards, suspicious, and she voices her speculations to John's attorney, Mr. Blair. Sheila also warns Ellen and, in the process, inadvertantly notifies Gregory of her suspicions. Later, when Sheila and Blair open Gregory's tomb, hoping to prove that he is still alive, they find Gregory, who has placed himself in another death trance. Later, however, Blair learns that the tomb is empty and, afraid for Ellen's safety, telephones her. Gregory picks up the other line and overhears the call. As the police surround the house, Gregory tries to strangle Ellen for betraying him, but is shot before he kills her. John's name is cleared and he is released from prison.