The Magician was loosely based on the 1908 novel by Somerset Maugham -- which, in turn, was inspired by the controversial career of "Black Arts" practitioner Aleister Crowley. The great German actor Paul Wegener stars as Doctor Haddo, a self-styled sorcerer who has unearthed an ancient document revealing the formula for creating artificial life. The instructions are detailed and specific -- especially the one that lists "the heart's blood of a maiden" as a principal ingredient. Haddo selects the virginal Margaret Dauncey (Alice Terry) as the blood donor, first mesmerizing her into cooperating with his diabolical experiments then strapping her to the operating table in his crumbling, palatial laboratory. The film's literally explosive climax could not help but have influenced such future horror classics as The Bride of Frankenstein, though The Magician is itself less horrific than sensual, especially in the scene where Haddo convinces the hypnotized heroine that she is taking a journey into Hell. Dismissed as "tasteless" by critics in 1926, The Magician remains one of director Rex Ingram's most fascinating films; alas, most currently available prints are dupes, robbing the film of its original visual magnificence. Among Ingram's talented assistants on this film were future directors Harry Lachman and Michael Powell.