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The House of Fear (1945)

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Sherlock Holmes investigates a series of deaths at a castle with each foretold by the delivery of orange pips to the victims.



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Complete credited cast:
Aubrey Mather ...
Dennis Hoey ...
Paul Cavanagh ...
Dr. Simon Merrivale
Holmes Herbert ...
Alan Cosgrave
Harry Cording ...
Captain John Simpson
Sally Shepherd ...
Mrs. Monteith
Gavin Muir ...
Florette Hillier ...
Alison MacGregor
David Clyde ...
Alex MacGregor


Seven rich men retire to a Scottish castle and promptly begin to die in violent fashion. Each death is preceded by the delivery of orange pips to the next target. As all the likely victims are heaviliy insured, Sherlock Holmes is asked by the insurance companies to investigate. Written by Jeremy Perkins <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


HORROR stalking its halls!


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 March 1945 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sherlock Holmes: The House of Fear  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


References Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original Sherlock Holmes short story The Five Orange Pips. See more »


Lestrade receives an envelope. Holmes asks to examine it. As Lestrade hands it over, the flap is loose. Holmes takes the envelope and breaks the seal with a finger. See more »


Sherlock Holmes: Murder is an insidious thing. Once a man has dipped his fingers in blood, sooner or later he'll feel the urge to kill again.
See more »


Followed by The Woman in Green (1945) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Not Holmes' finest hour, but certainly not a bad one either
8 June 2005 | by (Beverley Hills, England) – See all my reviews

While it's not as great as earlier Holmes mysteries, such as The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Scarlet Claw; The House of Fear is still an admirable entry in Holmes' list of triumphs. My favourite detective mysteries are always the ones that include a dash of horror, and I'm pleased to remark that this one has that. The film is directed by Roy William Neill; the same man that directed fellow horror-orientated Holmes yarn, The Scarlet Claw. For this film, Neill has succeeded in capturing a foreboding and intriguing atmosphere once again, and the story, which includes a rickety old house, benefits immensely from that. The story follows a group of men that have moved to Scotland from London after forming a club and buying a large house. After two of them are murdered subsequent to receiving strange notes, the super-sleuth and his trusty sidekick; Dr Watson are called in to get to the bottom of the mystery. Could the fact that each member of the group is a beneficiary of each of the others' life insurance policies have anything to do with it?

This film is very short at just 69 minutes, and this is part of the reason why the film doesn't work quite as well as other Holmes yarns. Despite being short, the film doesn't have many moments of real tension and there are several instances where the story slows down to walking pace, and these can be a trifle dull. The story in this movie is rather thin, but, despite it's lack of tension, it does have intrigue; which redeems the plotting somewhat. One thing that the film definitely does benefit from is that, like all other Universal Holmes films made in the 30's and 40's, it stars the great Basil Rathbone as the great detective and Nigel Bruce as the sidekick; Dr Watson. These two have a great on-screen chemistry, and you can really believe that they are old friends. The climax of the film is nice and it's unlikely that you'll see it coming...but that's its main vice also; it's somewhat unlikely. I'm becoming a big fan of Sherlock Holmes movies, so I'm rating this one a little higher than many would; but in spite of my slight bias, this is still a very good film and one that Holmes fans will not want to miss

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