The Haunted Strangler (also known as Grip of the Strangler and originally titled The Judas Hole) is a 1958 British horror film directed by Robert Day. It was adapted from "Stranglehold", a story which screenwriter Jan Read had written specially for Boris Karloff, and was shot back to back with producer Richard Gordon's Fiend Without a Face, with both later being released as a double bill by MGM.
In Victorian London, Edward Styles is accused of being the notorious Haymarket Strangler, the brutal killer of five women. Twenty years after he is tried and executed for these crimes James Rankin (Karloff), a novelist and social reformer, launches an investigation to prove that Styles is innocent. His search for clues leads him first to the sleazy Judas Hole music hall, where the Strangler picked his victims from the resident can-can dancers and loose women, and then to the prison cemetery of Newgate where Styles was buried - in order to exhume his body. When the killings start again, Rankin's theory seems to be vindicated. However his growing obsession with the case signals a most unwelcome revelation as to the true identity of the murderer.Boris Karloff as James Rankin
Jean Kent as Cora Seth
Elizabeth Allan as Barbara Rankin
Anthony Dawson as Superintendent Burk
Vera Day as Pearl
Tim Turner as Dr. Kenneth McColl
Diane Aubrey as Lily Rankin
Max Brimmell as Newgate Prison Turnkey
Leslie Perrins as Newgate Prison Governor
Jessica Cairns as Asylum Maid
Dorothy Gordon as Hannah
Desmond Roberts as Dr. Johnson
The film was originally to be called Stranglehold and was written by Jan Read, a friend of Boris Karloff's. He gave the script to producer Richard Gordon, who was looking to make a horror movie in the UK. Gordon set up Amalgamated Productions with Charles Vetters and had started providing US funding and talent for B pictures shot in Britain.
Amalgamated went into partnership with British producer John Croydon and negotiated a deal with distributor Eros Films who agreed to guarantee 70% of the film's budget after delivery of the final product. The remaining 30% of the budget was provided by the National Film Finance Corporation.
The agreement with Eros was conditional on Amalgamated providing a second film, so Gordon arranged to make Fiend Without a Face back to back with a different cast and director. MGM picked up the film for release. Gordon later estimated the cost of the two movies together was approximately £80,000 exclusive of the costs of imported American stars.
Read's script was rewritten by John Croydon who brought in the idea of making the killer a Jack the Ripper style murderer and having the transformation be physical (in the original draft Rankin was only possessed by the killer's spirit).
The film was shot in Walton Studios in Surrey. Karloff was paid $27,500 for four weeks, with an option to make a second film for Amalgamated.
According to MGM records this film and Fiend Without a Face together earned $350,000 in the US and Canada and $300,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit to the studio of $160,000.