Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


HOUSE OF MYSTERY (1934). Director: William Nigh.
"Horatio, are you going to allow this vulgarian to browbeat me?"
A man named Prendegast (Clay Clement), who now calls himself John Pren and appears to be crippled, lives alone in a creaky old house with his nurse Ella (Verna Hillie) and an ageless Hindu gal named Chanda (Joyzelle Joyner), as well as a big stuffed gorilla. Into the house come a group of people who were investors in an expedition to India twenty years earlier. Prendagast made off with a treasure -- with a curse on it -- as well as Chanda (who doesn't appear a day older), and now the investors want their share of the fortune. In the old house tom-toms begin to sound whenever a murder -- of one of the shareholders, natch -- occurs, and the big ape comes to life and strangles its victims. Harry Bradley and Mary Foy are fun as the hen-pecked Professor Horatio Potter and his termagant wife, Hyacinth. Ed Lowry is the nominal hero of the piece, an extroverted insurance salesman who takes a shine to Ella. Irving Bacon, who plays the inspector investigating the murders, played Ethel's father on I Love Lucy. House of Mystery is no world-beater, but it is fun of a minor kind.

Verdict: For addicts of old house movies primarily. **1/2.

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