Marcel De Lange is a struggling sculptor whose work and sanity are derided by the New York art critics. After waspishly officious critic F. Holmes Harmon ruins a sale for De Lange by dismissing his expressionistic cubist work as "tripe" and later gloating about it in his column, the distraught artist goes to the river to drown himself. There he discovers the half-drowned body of the notorious serial killer, the Creeper, and takes him back to his studio to recover. Feeling empowered by the friendship of the acromegalic sociopath, De Lange tasks him with murdering the critics who have pilloried him in print. When successful commercial artist Steve Morrow is wrongly suspected of the crimes, his art critic girlfriend Joan Medford decides to follow her instinct about a mysterious bust De Lange has covered up and snoops around his studio. Written by
Part of the original SHOCK THEATER package of 52 Universal titles released to television in 1957, followed a year later with SON OF SHOCK, which added 21 more features. See more »
After the Creeper kills De Lange and smashes the bust, Joan runs to the studio door and finds it locked. It would have been much more sensible for her to have tried fleeing the studio while De Lange and the Creeper were fighting. See more »
Before the review, a brief plot summary: The majority of New York's artists loathe F. Holmes Harmon, a cynical, cruel art critic who has prevented several of them from making sales. No-one, however, despises him more then Marcel DeLange, a genious sculptor who no-one really understands. He has no money, is starving, and when Harmon prevents him from selling his finest work, he goes to the bridge to commit suicide. He is suprised to find a massive, ugly character floating in the river, half-drowned. His feautures inspire DeLange to carve a bust of the man which someone's bound to buy. He takes the man home and nurses him back to health. What DeLange does not know is that his model is The Creeper, a ruthless murderer known to snap women's spines, which he continues to do at night. And when he learns Harmon's address, he's off to take care of him. Just when he was writing a scalding review about paint-brush wielder Steve Morrow, who gets framed when Harmon is found dead, and his girlfriend, critic Joan Medford, goes off to prove his innocence.
This B-movie was a spin-off from "The Pearl of Death", a 1944 Universal Sherlock Holmes picture with Basil Rathbone. The Hoxton Creeper was a supporting character, a sort of sidekick to the true villian. Near the end of the film, Holmes murdered the rogue. Two years later, The Creeper was ressurected, plopped in a river in New York, had the Hoxton part stripped away, and made the star "monster" in a horror flick. He is not even a monster at all: He is a disfigured murderer. And not quite as frightening as the studio had intended. He isn't quite "the perfect neandrethal man", as DeLange called him, and his dim-wittedness makes him difficult to be intimidating. Played by Rondo Hatton, who needed no makeup thanks to a condition that enlarged the head and hands. The producers assumed that meant he didn't need makeup to be frightening. Poor, deluded men. Hatton cameod in a series of movies as a typical "ugly guy", like a contender in the ugly contest in "The Hunchback of Notre Dame".
Martin Kosleck plays Marcel DeLange, owner of the "House of Horrors", his studio full of strange statues. As amusing as Martin is (more from his overracting then his charming little accent), he fails to potray insanity well. Alan Napier (most famous for playing Alfred Pennyworth in the 60s series of "Batman") potrays the acid-blooded Harmon, and I must admit he is an easy character to hate, and as small as his role is he has some good lines. Robert Lowery plays a somewhat under-developed character in Steven Morrow (ironically he actually played Batman once, in the 1949 serial), who is currently working on a painting of a blonde tennis player. The beautiful model (played by Joan Shawlee, credited as Fulton for some reason, and another flat character) catches the eye of yet another uncolourful character, Larry Brooks, the policeman investigating the murder of Harmon and several street women (played by Bill Goodwin). Finally, independant art critic Joan Medford is played by Virgina Grey. Although Kosleck is fun watching and some of the chemistry and dialouge between Joan and Harmon is crisp, most of them are wooden acting and show no chemistry. Sometimes it's painful watching.
The plot is slightly intriguing and moves quickly, but the script gets quite ridiculous and often unoriginal. The soundtrack is unfrightening, the scenes where the Creeper leaves at night leave you yawning, and some of the sets are pitiful. Not to mention the whole darn thing is anti-feminist. Yes, Joan is an independant woman but she is portrayed in a negative way- plus a copy boy calls her "my dear young woman"- err, that made me cringe. The ending is both predictable and ridiculous, I was irritated by the stupidity of DeLange's err, and there are a couple plot holes you could march an army through.
Not a particularly great film. But if you have to decide over this and it's sequel, "The Brute Man", pick this. At least it's mildy amusing. "The Brute Man" is a plain pile of dung.
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