I read about this in a book about classic horror films in elementary school, around 1987 to 1991, in Ashland, KY. The main character is a scientist who is developing an artificial heart. To prove his invention, he implants the heart in himself. Later, he becomes a murderer (I think with all implication that having an artificial heart took away his human compassion), and I think he initially gets away with it because the lie detector showed him telling the truth (since his pulse was constant due to the artificial heart). I don't remember if the book said how it ended.

The stills reproduced in the book were in black and white, but I don't know if the films themselves were. Artificial hearts were a real thing by that time (the first one implanted in 1982), but I'm pretty sure it was science fiction at the time the film came out. I don't remember the book looking horribly old, but I know we didn't get a lot of new books, being a private Catholic school in a small town of largely Baptists. I might be conflating books, but I remember two of the other films being referenced were The Blob and The Tingler.

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    Boris Karloff plays a scientist who invents an artificial heart in The Man They Could Not Hang. That probably is not the film you read about, however, because nothing else in the plot matches. Karloff kills an assistant to test his new mechanical heart, but is arrested before he can revive the man. He is convicted of murder and executed. An assistant revives Karloff using his own invention. Karloff seeks revenge on the judge and jury who convicted him. Probably not the right movie.
    – Tim
    Nov 27, 2020 at 1:07
  • It's a partial match, I suppose. :) I'll look into it.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 27, 2020 at 1:08
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    I'd be willing to bet that the book you read this in was one of the "Monsters" series of books by Ian Thorne aka Julian May. She wrote a bunch of them in the 70s and 80s. They were much like you describe: brief synopses of classic movies with B&W stills. One in the series was called "Mad Scientists", a likely candidate! They all had orange backs and spines, if that rings any bells with you.
    – Moriarty
    Nov 27, 2020 at 2:44
  • Unfortunately, this may have been over 30 years ago, so a lot of the details escape me. :)
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 27, 2020 at 2:50
  • Can you remember anything else about the book itself? What the cover art looked like, the color scheme, the size of the book?
    – E.Z. Hart
    Nov 27, 2020 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


The book this came from was one of the Crestwood House Monsters series, which were extremely widespread in the 1980s, most of which were written by Julian May under one of her many pen names, Ian Thorne. Each book told one or more stories, based on classic horror films, illustrated by black-and-white stills (mostly from the films, but sometimes behind-the-scenes shots or just headshots of the actors).


Mad Scientists told two complete stories, based on the 1931 and 1933 film versions of The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde and The Invisible Man. After that, the book provided additional information about a wealth of other mad scientist films, such as The Island of Lost Souls (1932), based on The Island of Doctor Moreau.

Mad Scientists

Since archive.org has the book, we can find the movie description you were remembering.

In The Man They Could Not Hang (1939), Karloff was executed when his mechanical heart caused death instead of life. However, the scientist was restored to life by his own invention. He punished those who destroyed him.

If you want to watch the film, it can also be found online.

  • I will watch the film to see if it sparks any memories of the stills (none of which I can recall at the moment), but the book doesn't spark any memories.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 27, 2020 at 4:20
  • The book looks too familiar to not be a match, even if the plotline doesn't quite go the way I remember.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Aug 10, 2021 at 5:02

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