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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

HOUSE OF HORRORS

Marcel (Martin Kosleck) admires his bust of the Creeper
















HOUSE OF HORRORS (1946). Director: Jean Yarbrough.

Starving artist Marcel De Lange (Great Old Movies' favorite Martin Kosleck) is about to commit suicide in despair when he stumbles across an injured man known only as the Creeper (Rondo Hatton). The Creeper had already committed a series of murders, snapping people's spines, and is presumed dead. Marcel uses the Creeper to get revenge on his enemies, especially the acidic critic Holmes Harmon (Alan Napier), who has no tolerance for the abstract. The main suspect in Harmon's murder, however, is commercial illustrator Steven Morrow (Robert Lowery of the Batman and Robin serial), who was to be the target of his venom in the critic's latest column. Another critic, Joan Medford (Virginia Grey), happens to be Morrow's girlfriend and a champion of De Lange's macabre sculptures. But when she gets too close to figuring out De Lange's deadly secret ... This is a snappy and suspenseful horror thriller, well-directed by Yarbrough, and with an excellent performance from Kosleck, and good back up from Hatton [who thinks his bust is "pretty"], a highly vivacious (perhaps too vivacious considering the goings-on) Grey, and a more than competent Lowery and Napier. Howard Freeman also scores as another art critic, Hal Ormiston, who participates in a scheme to catch the murderer. The beautiful model Stella is played by Joan Shawlee and Lt. Brooks is Bill Goodwin. House of Horrors is an unofficial sequel to the modern-day Sherlock Holmes film The Pearl of Death, in which Hatton also played a Creeper who breaks spines. Oddly the opening credits of Horrors "introduce" Hatton as the Creeper. There were plans to make a series of Creeper films and turn Hatton into a horror star, but the poor fellow, who suffered from acromegaly due to exposure to poison gas in WW1, passed away before House of Horrors opened. Kosleck's most famous part was in The Flesh Eaters. Yarbrough directed She-Wolf of London and many, many others.

Verdict: Highly entertaining horror flick. ***.

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