The Dark Eyes of London aka The Human Monster – UK, 1939 – reviews

VCI Video is releasing a Collector’s Edition Blu-ray of The Human Monster (US title) restored in 2K on October 29, 2019.

Bonus features include:

  • Extensive Poster and Photo Gallery
  • Original U.S. Re-issue Theatrical Trailer
  • Archival Video ‘Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi’
  • Liner Notes by film historian Patrick McCabe
  • Commentary Track by film historian, author and Bela Lugosi expert, Gary Don Rhodes
  • Commentary Track by film historian David del Valle and author, screenwriter and monster kid, Phoef Sutton

The Dark Eyes of London – aka The Human Monster – is a 1939 British horror feature film directed by Walter Summers from a screenplay co-written with Patrick Kirwan and John Argyle (as J.F. Argyle). Jan Van Lusil provided additional dialogue. It is an adaptation of the 1924 novel of the same name by Edgar Wallace. The movie stars Bela Lugosi, Hugh Williams and Greta Gynt.

Plot:

In London, philanthropist Dr Orloff (Bela Lugosi) volunteers his services at a home for blind men, which serves as a cover for his notorious exploits. On the side, Orloff runs an insurance company that offers loans to desperate, unattached men, whom he convinces to list him as a beneficiary.

With the aid of a blind man from the home, Orloff then coldly murders the men to collect the insurance. Although the police begin an investigation, Orloff brazenly continues the brutal killings…

Reviews:

“For a 75 minute B-movie that relishes its gruesome inventiveness, this is surprisingly effective and stands up well today, both as a detective yarn and a horror flick.” Hal C. F. Astell, Apocalypse Later

“The film carries its nationalistic credentials on its sleeve, using London as the backdrop for a series of murders committed near the River Thames. But the plot is still contrived in a way that introduces the American Lieutenant O’Reilly (Edmon Ryan) as early as possible, in an obvious nod to US audiences.” Paul Moody, BFI Screen Online

“This is quite an interesting mystery-thriller with strong horror overtones.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Bela Lugosi does his hammily contorted thing, glaring at people with eyes wide open and leaving thick pauses in the middle of sentences, even entire words. The sets are interesting, the dockland scenes convincing, leaving one unsure whether they are sets or real locations. However, The Dark Eyes of London never amounts to more than routine.” Richard Scheib, Moria

” …not only is Wilfred Walter more unglamorous than even Charles Laughton as the hunchback but is totally blind in the bargain. Consequently, his homicidal technique is the more deliberative and, so to speak, stately, giving the camera plenty of time to dwell with sadistic relish on the more recherché details of his method of doing his victims in.” B.R. Crisler, The New York Times, March 25, 1940

“There a few standout moments, including the scene where Lugosi (heartlessly) destroys the hearing of one his blind accomplices – so that the chap won’t be able to hear the questions posed by the police. But the best part of The Human Monster is its climactic end scene: dirty – but perfect! – justice.” The Terror Trap

” …weirdly atmospheric, with good use made of the Thames mudflats and a splendidly macabre denouement involving two blind henchmen…” Time Out Film Guide

“Lugosi turns in one of his best performances here, managing to underplay his role (unusual for him), thus balancing the more contrived moments in the script. Actor Wilfrid Walter, who plays Lugosi’s grotesque, blind assistant Jake, helped create the effective makeup for his character.” TV Guide

Cast and characters:

  • Bela Lugosi … Doctor Feodor Orloff
  • Hugh Williams … Detective Inspector Larry Holt
  • Greta Gynt … Diana Stuart – Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror
  • Edmon Ryan … Lieutenant Patrick O’Reilly
  • Wilfred Walter … Jake
  • Alexander Field … Fred Grogan
  • O.B. Clarence … Professor John Dearborn (voice) (uncredited)
  • May Hallatt … Police Constable Griggs (uncredited)
  • Bryan Herbert … Police Sgt. Walsh (uncredited)
  • Arthur E. Owen … Dumb Lou (uncredited)
  • Charles Penrose … Morrison, an undercover detective (uncredited)
  • Gerald Pring … Henry Stuart (uncredited)
  • George Street … Commissioner, Scotland Yard (uncredited)
  • Julie Suedo … Orloff’s Secretary (uncredited)

Release:

Dark Eyes of London was released by Anglo Amalgamated Film Distributors in November 1939 in Britain and became the first British film to receive the “H” rating for “Horrific”.

H_cert

It was released in the USA in 1940 by Monogram Pictures as The Human Monster.

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