Milquetoast small-town store clerk Johnny Goodlittle is smitten with his boss's pretty daughter, Betty Watson, and is enrolled in a correspondence school course as an aspiring private investigator. After receiving his diploma, badge, and gun, he involves himself in a local missing person case. The mysterious disappearance occurred in the vicinity of an old dark house which once functioned as a mental sanitarium but is now apparently abandoned. When Betty and dapper Amos Rugg, Johnny's co-worker and rival for her affections, become trapped in the asylum, Johnny discovers that the asylum is not deserted but run by the eccentric Dr. Ziska and his bizarre staff and puts his correspondence school training to the test.Written by
The original play opened in New York on 9 August 1922 and had 101 performances. Walter James originated his movie role as Calaban in the play. In the 1933 revival, DeWolf Hopper Sr. played Dr. Ziska. See more »
Roman candles would barely light and be put out almost immediately in the torrential rain depicted. See more »
Ziska, who was once a famous surgeon, controls the others...
Caliban imagines he's Ziska's slave - Rigo is dangerous, while Dan is quite harmless ...
They must have built those devilish traps and devices after they imprisoned us.
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Turner Classic Movies (TCM) showed an 86-minute version with an uncredited music score on cable. See more »
A belittled clerk uses his ingenuity as an amateur detective to track down THE MONSTER responsible for some rather eerie recent disappearances.
This is a wonderfully creepy silent film. With very good acting & excellent production values courtesy of MGM, it is too bad this movie is not better known. The large amounts of humor help to lighten the load considerably and are very welcome.
The Master, Lon Chaney, adds another portrait to his gallery of grotesques. Slyly underplaying his character and letting his marvelous face act for him, Chaney more than makes up for the fact that his role is rather small. It is certainly ironic that this gentle man & terrific actor should be remembered principally for his bizarre & monstrous creations.
Comic Johnny Arthur receives co-star billing with Chaney and he deserves it, since he carries the bulk of the action. He does a fine job with his character, giving him backbone & spunk rather than allowing any milquetoast tendencies to ever predominate. With the coming of sound, Arthur would perfect a nervous, whiny persona. He made his last screen appearance in 1951, the year of his death at the age of 68.
Special kudos should be given to Walter James, Knute Erickson & George Austin for their strong support as a trio of very odd lunatics, all quite different & memorable.
THE MONSTER is considered by many to be the first in a long line of Mad Doctor films. It is also a prime example of the Old Dark House genre of spook stories. It certainly has many of the elements: a crumbling edifice, a distressed young lady, escaped madmen, bony hands appearing from hidden panels, secret passageways and sudden death. The Old Dark House has for long years been a respected avenue in literature & movies to maximize suspense & tension. Indeed, it's only a short walk from the Edwards Sanitarium in this film to Wuthering Heights, Baskerville Hall, Manderley & the Bates House...
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