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

Thursday, October 26, 2017


"It is extremely bad form to gossip about your employers!"
NIGHT MONSTER (1942). Director: Ford Beebe.

Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan) is a crippled recluse on an old estate with a sister, Margaret (Fay Helm of Captive Wild Woman), who thinks she's crazy; a housekeeper, Sarah (Doris Lloyd) who acts like she owns the place; a house guest named Agor Singh (Nils Asther of Storm at Daybreak), who can supposedly teleport old bones from graves into the living room; and a leering chauffeur, Laurie (Leif Erickson), who makes a pass at any pretty woman who walks by. Two household staff members include maid Milly (Janet Shaw), who comes to a bad end; and the butler Rolf (Bela Lugosi), who observes and smirks with equal finesse. Into this hot bed come the three doctors who were unable to prevent Ingston's paralysis -- King (Lionel Atwill), Timmons (Frank Reicher), and Phipps (Francis Pierlot) -- as well as the lady psychiatrist Lynn Harper (Irene Hervey) who has come in response to Margaret's call for help. Then the murders begin ... Night Monster is absurd and has some ridiculous moments, but while it has some humor, it can't be accused of the awful "comedy relief" that cheapens all too many of these old horror films. Although he is top-billed, Lugosi has only a supporting part, but manages to tower over everyone in spite of it. Don Porter plays a family friend who teams up with Lynn to find out who is responsible for the series of deaths. There are clever aspects to the story, and a rather creepy finale. All of the actors are on top of things. Ford Beebe was famous for directing cliffhanger serials, but he also does a good job with this moody suspense flick. Hervey and Lloyd were both in Motive for Revenge.

Verdict: At times the film threatens to fall apart, but it has suspense, good performances, and several interesting sequences. ***.


angelman66 said...

Poor Bela Lugosi...they just kept giving him smaller and smaller parts! It's clear Universal didn't see him as nearly as valuable as Karloff...
Does he at least have a decent part in this one?

William said...

He's all through it if in a supporting part, and he's quite (deliberately) amusing as he wryly watches the crazy goings-on. He's great when he tells off the maid for gossiping!