Night Monster – USA, 1942 – reviews

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‘Creeping terror… kills like a strangler!’

Night Monster is a 1942 American horror feature film produced and directed by Ford Beebe (The Phantom Creeps; The Invisible Man’s Revenge) from a story and screenplay by Clarence Upson Young. It was distributed by Universal Pictures.

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For publicity value, star billing was given to Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, but the lead roles were played by Ralph Morgan, Irene Hervey and Don Porter, with Atwill actually in a character role as a pompous doctor who becomes a victim to the title character, and Lugosi in a small part as a butler.

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In a small town, unexplained murders and rumours of mysterious happenings surround the swamp-based home of the reclusive but respected Curt Ingston (Morgan).

Ingston uses a wheelchair, and has invited to his home the three doctors who were trying to cure him when his paralysis set in. Already in the household are his grim-humoured butler Rolf; a lecherous chauffeur, Lawrie; a mannish housekeeper, Miss Judd; an Eastern mystic, Agar Singh; and Ingston’s allegedly mentally-ill sister, Margaret. Outside, the gate is watched by a shrivelled old hunchback called Torque…

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Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Before this potpourri of occult mumbo-jumbo runs its tedious and fantastic course no less than eight normally healthy looking actors wind up as corpses. Perhaps Lionel Atwill and Janet Shaw were the most fortunate of the victims, meeting their demise early in the proceedings before the audience became inured to such violence.” The New York Times, November 30, 1942

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“Jack Otterson’s (The Mummy’s Tomb) art direction and Charles Van Enger’s camera build a noir atmosphere and slick gloss for Beebe’s movie. Enhanced by moody, terror-tense music, some of it previously heard in The Wolf Man, the secluded mansion’s menacing shadows, secret passageways, and flickering, fireplace-lighted gloom, all surrounded by a miasma of swirling fog, show an hypnotic palette of images.” Zombo’s Closet

“Mainly a mystery with the usual sinister suspects, including Lugosi standing rather sadly on the sidelines as the butler, the film, though capably acted and serviceably directed, is routine.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

‘Stilted, creaky would-be thriller with a good cast and an impertinent plot.’ LeslieHalliwell.com

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Cast and characters:

Actor Role
Bela Lugosi Rolf
Lionel Atwill Dr. King
Leif Erickson Lawrie
Irene Hervey Dr. Lynn Harper
Ralph Morgan Curt Ingston
Don Porter Dick Baldwin
Nils Asther Agar Singh
Fay Helm Margaret Ingston
Frank Reicher Dr. Timmons
Doris Lloyd Sarah Judd
Francis Pierlot Dr. Phipps
Robert Homans Constable Cap Beggs

 

 

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