The action takes place in nineteenth-century Philadelphia, where Dr. Cyrus Norton, a brilliant but eccentric surgeon, is creating an "anatomical museum" to further his standing as a recognized expert on anatomy and dissection. The problem is that he needs cadavers, and by law these can only be obtained from the public gallows, so he is forced to deal with the unsavory Gin Hester and her sinister partner, Scrubbs, two grave robbers and body-snatchers who have little concern about where the corpses might come from. In fact, in their zeal to practice their lucrative trade, the two soon bring suspicion on Dr. Norton and his household: his devoted daughter, who wants to follow in her father's footsteps; his vapid spinster sister; and his eager assistant, a young doctor who has fallen in love with the daughter. Chills mount as one eerie scene follows another, and the persistent police detective assigned to the case moves nearer to learning the truth about the blackmail and increasingly vicious murders which have been engendered by the doctor's obsession. In the end Dr. Norton himself falls victim to the evil he has unleashed, but, as the curtain falls, we learn that he has not died in vain—his daughter, Marilyn, has donned her father's bloody apron and will carry on his "good work" for the betterment of mankind and the advancement of science.
Filled with suspense and sudden shocks, this cleverly constructed thriller will both enthrall and terrify an audience as it traces its macabre tale of body-snatching, explosive jealousies and murder.