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The House of Fear
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Reviews & Ratings for
The House of Fear More at IMDbPro »

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29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Offers All That's Fun About The Holmes Movies

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
22 August 2006

I'd have to rate this as one of the best of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films. It has about everything you would want in these movies - suspense, action, a clever story and some good humor courtesy our friend Dr. Watson. The latter is in top form with a number of funny lines and reactions to the happenings around him.

Meanwhile, this plays like the Agatha Christie story, "And Then There Were None." Instead of "10 Little Indians," there are the "orange pips" which are sent in an envelope to the members of the "The Good Comrades" club up in Drearcliff, Scotland. Whoever receives the envelope is shortly thereafter murdered in a grisly way. Holmes, Watson and then Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, all venture up to the Scottish mansion to investigate the murders.

This is good stuff with nary a lull during the 69-minute film that features a variety of suspects, from evil-looking to the nicest guy in the house. Who is committing these murders is anyone's guess, right down to the end.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Strong Holmes/Watson

8/10
Author: Penfold-13 from London, UK
17 September 1999

This is one of the best of the low-budget Sherlock Holmes films with Basil Rathbone as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson.

Seven men, the "Good Comrades" have formed a club, and they all live together in a castle on the North coast of Scotland. They all have life insurance policies of high value, the beneficiaries being the surviving members of the club. Holmes is called in by the insurers when two of them die violently in quick succession.

It all takes place in the castle, and more of the Comrades meet an end, so it's Ten Little Indians territory.

Rathbone and Bruce, with the cheerful support of Dennis Hoey as Lestrade, do their usual number with a fairly intricate plot, and a jolly good time is had by all.

The direction is pacy, and it rattles along very satisfactorily; the production values are pretty low, but we're only looking at story-telling than brilliant cinematography.

Enjoyable stuff.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A Pip of a Film

Author: BaronBl00d (baronbl00d@aol.com) from NC
20 February 2002

Sherlock Holmes and his mumbling sidekick Dr. Watson go to Scotland to investigate the deaths of members of "The Good Comrades," a group of seven lonely men that make a pact to split the money of each dying member. A maid has been given a letter to give the members of the group at dinner. The letter contains a number of orange pips(pits) that coincides with the remaining number of the group. After receiving the letter, the member shortly dies after. This is highly enjoyable fare from the Sherlock Holmes team of Rathbone, Bruce, Dennis Hoey as Lestrade, and director Roy William Neill. The film zips by at a nice pace, and it has a unique mystery which I could only partially unravel. Rathbone is at his best, but Bruce tends to steal almost every scene he is in with his mumbling antics and comedic abilities. The rest of the cast of stalwart British character actors do just as ably with Aubrey Mather really standing out as the genial owner of the home where the Good Comrades stay. Lots of dark atmosphere, rainy nights, and Scottish lore to surround this intriguing tale.

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the most original movies I've seen in years

10/10
Author: jdzurinda2 from United States
8 May 2008

Being older I've found that many times we end up watching the same plot over and over in remakes. This movie was totally different then any I've ever seen to date. I won't spoil the movie by saying much but it kept me guessing whodunit.

The movie had it's share of comedy with Nigel Bruce and moved along at a good pace. This is probably the best of the Sherlock Holmes series by Rathbone and Bruce.

Let no one ruin the ending for you and watch it, I think you'll like it. For a low budget movie it won't let you down. How I survived this long without ever seeing it at least once is amazing.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Atmospheric, Interesting Holmes Mystery

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
21 October 2005

With lots of atmospheric detail and an interesting, involved Sherlock Holmes mystery story, this is one of many enjoyable features in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series. The plot is, to be honest, pretty far-fetched, but it makes for a very entertaining story with lots of intriguing developments. The supporting cast features Dennis Hoey as Inspector Lestrade, Aubrey Mather as an interesting oddball character, and Paul Cavanagh in a good role as one of the suspects.

The story takes some of the basic elements from Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Five Orange Pips", but places it in an entirely new setting that works much better on the screen. It also adds many other ideas, some from Doyle, and some from other sources. The good cast and the effective atmosphere in a remote corner of Scotland help to keep the story interesting instead of straining plausibility.

Roy William Neill does one of his many solid directing jobs in the series, keeping a good balance between entertainment and mystery, and between the original characters and the contemporary setting. It might not be the most tightly-crafted of the series, but it's certainly one of the more enjoyable ones to watch.

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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Another Spooky House For Holmes & Watson

10/10
Author: Ron Oliver (revilorest@juno.com) from Forest Ranch, CA
6 March 2005

Gathered in THE HOUSE OF FEAR, the members of a strange tontine begin to meet violent & mysterious deaths.

Once again, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's celebrated consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, tackles the problems pervading an Old Dark House. This time it's the Good Comrades Club and their rapidly dwindling membership, and Universal Studios supplies all the proper atmospherics to provide plenty of chills & suspense.

Basil Rathbone, as the cerebral sleuth, and Nigel Bruce, as his amiable sidekick, have already reached perfection in their roles. Rathbone, with his wonderful voice, always commands attention, and Bruce is especially good in the sequence where Watson finds himself alone in Drearcliff House, surrounded by unseen menace. Together, their film partnership has become screen legend.

Dennis Hoey returns in the role of Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard, always several steps behind Holmes in his use of deductive reasoning.

The seven Good Comrades are played by cherubic Aubrey Mather, gaunt Paul Cavanagh, Holmes Herbert, Harry Cording, and the unbilled Wilson Benge, Cyril Delevanti & Richard Alexander. Also appearing without credit is that most versatile of British character actresses, Doris Lloyd, playing a Scots innkeeper.

This film, which was very loosely based on Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips, followed THE PEARL OF DEATH (1944) and preceded THE WOMAN IN GREEN (1945).

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15 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Not Holmes' finest hour, but certainly not a bad one either

8/10
Author: The_Void from Beverley Hills, England
8 June 2005

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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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Rather spooky Sherlock Holmes mystery

8/10
Author: Chris Gaskin from Derby, England
24 January 2006

Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear recently came on BBC2 and one of the reviews in the TV listings says this was one of the poorer Bathbone Holmes movies. I disagree and this is one of the better ones and certainly one of the creepiest.

In this one, Holmes and Watson are sent to Scotland to investigate a series of murders in a rather creepy and remote mansion, Drearcliff House. The Good Comrades Club are dining here and it looks like somebody has it in for these men, as more are killed and Dr Watson nearly becomes a victim of this killer too. One clue regarding these murders is orange pips. The investigation then takes Holmes into a secret passage leading to the basement of Drearcliff House...

This is very spooky in parts, helped by the howling wind and nighttime scenes and the location of the mansion.

As usual, Basil Rathobone is joined by Nigel Bruce as Dr Watson and the rest of the cast includes Dennis Hoey, Paul Cavanagh and Holmes Herbert.

This is a must for everyone Sherlock Holmes fan. One of the best of the series.

Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Murder is an insidious thing Watson.

7/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
1 October 2009

Sherlock Holmes agrees to an insurance company request to investigate the gruesome deaths of wealthy gentlemen living in a Scottish mansion. Each death is predicted by the strange delivery of Orange Pips to the next intended victim.

Lets get the main fact out of the way first, although an adaptation of Conan Doyle's Holmes story, {Adventures} The Five Orange Pips, The House Of Fear bears little resemblance to that particular source. So purist fans of the literary aspects are in for a let down. Or are they? Directed by Roy William Neill with the screenplay coming from Roy Chanslor, this tenth entry in the Rathbone/Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes films is a deliciously atmospheric mystery piece holding its own. Set very much in the creepy mansion formula, House Of Fear, with all its off kilter camera work {beautifully realised now with the marvellous restoration job}, utilises the scope for "nothing is ever what it seems" to great effect. Thus of course giving Holmes {Rathbone impeccable as usual} license to detect with great gusto and ingenuity. This is after all what one wants from a Sherlock Holmes film me thinks? The film is also aided by some rather fine work from the sound department, winds and footsteps are sharp to the ears, again impacting on the mood to fully involve the viewer.

While the relatively short running time stops it from being a fully born out mystery, and yes if you dig deep enough you will find a couple of creaky plot holes. The House Of Fear is still one of the better entries in this marvellous series of films. Sometimes it's all about the characters and the situation they find themselves in. With that, this becomes an essential Holmes movie, regardless of grumbles from purists and plot holers alike. 7/10

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A REAL Sherlock Holmes mystery, Agatha Christie style!

9/10
Author: binapiraeus from Greece
2 March 2014

In contrast to most of the other 'Sherlock Holmes' movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, where we know almost from the beginning who's the 'villain', "The House of Fear" is a REAL, classic whodunit; and a real complicated one, almost Agatha Christie style... And besides that, it's also got many of the features of the good old 'dark old house' mysteries - alright, the house isn't dark, but there's no telephone, and not a soul around for miles, because it's built on top of a cliff in Northern Scotland; the IDEAL surroundings for mysterious murders...

And that's just what happens: the members of the 'Good Comrades' club, consisting of seven men, are being 'reduced' one by one by horrible accidents - and every time, the next victim receives a mysterious envelope with orange pips (an old Asian symbol for death) in it, each time one less... Reminds us of the 'Ten Little Indians', doesn't it? But let's not jump to conclusions. The case is VERY twisted, and VERY interesting to follow, and requires the full attention of our 'little gray cells' throughout the whole duration of the movie.

The cast is supreme, the directing extraordinary, the settings creepy and old-fashioned, the plot is simply fascinating - and yet, there's also room for some humor in between, mainly thanks to Dr. Watson, grumpy but helpful as always, and of course Inspector Lestrade, slow-witted as always...

IMO, except for the two 'classic' adaptations made at 20th Century-Fox, this is probably the very best of the Rathbone/Bruce 'Sherlock Holmes' movies - enjoy the masterful crime entertainment, but don't let the many red herrings deceit you; will you find out the solution??

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