Count Alucard (read his name backwards) finds his way from Budapest to the swamps of the Deep South; his four nemeses are a medical doctor, a university professor, a jilted fiancé and the woman he loves.
Lon Chaney Jr.,
Dr. Lynn Harper, psychologist, has been called out to the old Ingston Mansion, a dark and mysterious place with a very bad reputation, in order to make an assessment of the sanity of Margaret Ingston, daughter of patriarch Kurt Ingston. She claims to be sane, but she is clearly very disturbed; we can't be certain, although the doctor gives her a clean bill of health. But then Dick Baldwin shows up on the scene, just when Dr. Lynne has been receiving thinly veiled threats from the inhabitants of the house. He's our hero. Three medical doctors have been invited out to the mansion as well, Dr. Timmons, Dr. Phipps and the sleazy Dr. King (Lionel Atwill). One by one the doctors are mysteriously murdered. Dick Baldwin must figure out who is doing the killings, and he must do so before whoever it is can kill his new love interest, Dr. Lynne Harper. But the only one he can trust is Kurt Ingston himself, since Ingston has no legs and can't have perpetrated these murders. Is it sinister Rolf, ... Written by
Universal made a great hit with this one due to the way the story is put together. This had to be one of the best "spooky house" films. The use of atmosphere in terms of foggy nights, shadows on the wall, creepy facial expressions (this is why "The Ring" was such a hit), creaky doors, puddles of blood, a skeleton materializing in a room, Bela Lugosi looking mysterious, frogs/crickets coming to a sudden silence, sinister residents of "The Towers" and more, make this one of the best shockers of the 1940s.
Ever spook yourself in a darkened room ? (Great fun!) Ever get spooked by inanimate objects in a room based on their shadows on the wall? (I used to have nightmares as a child (about 5 years of age) due to the wood patterns on a dresser that looked like ghoulish figures. My mother told me that I used to run high fevers as a child and this may account for it.) Not being a psychologist, I am not familiar with a lot of the theory underlying why this sort of thing happens, perhaps it is based on subliminal reactions to the unknown, but it is very simple to scare oneself by associating objects,shapes or shadows with some sort of subconscious fear. In any case, this movie does the same thing to an extent by creating an atmosphere of overwhelming dread by tuning to the subconscious anxieties (such as the proverbial "things that go bump in the night" ) which exist in all of us.
I am a great Bela Lugosi fan and even though he plays a red herring butler in this film, through the use of creepy facial expressions, he adds to the nightmare quality of this film. Some fans think he would have been better off in the Angar Singh role (as he played in another great film, "Night of Terror" 1933), but he is fine as the sinister butler this time. Lionel Atwill is also fun to watch. The ladies Fay Helm and Irene Harvey are great eye candy. In the last reel of the film, people are knocked off one by one until the film reaches a ghoulish climax (I won't give the ending away).
The film is similar to "Night of Terror" (1933) (one of my B-movie favorites) which is equally creepy and equally fun. The difference is that in "Night Monster", a supernatural element is added.
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