29 user 18 critic

The Monster (1925)

Passed | | Comedy, Horror, Mystery | 16 March 1925 (USA)
A meek clerk who doubles as an amateur detective investigates some very strange goings-on at a remote mental sanitarium.


Roland West


Roland West (stage production), Crane Wilbur (stage play) | 4 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Lon Chaney ... Dr. Ziska
Gertrude Olmstead ... Betty Watson
Hallam Cooley ... Watson's Head Clerk
Johnny Arthur ... The Under Clerk
Charles Sellon ... The Constable (as Charles A. Sellon)
Walter James Walter James ... Caliban
Knute Erickson ... Daffy Dan
Frank Austin ... Rigo (as George Austin)
Edward McWade ... Luke Watson
Ethel Wales ... Mrs. Watson


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 duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A mystery thriller and a love adventure. The romance of a boy and a girl in a mansion of hidden motives. A film you'll want to see all over again. (Print ad) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


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 »


Doctor Edwards: Ziska, who was once a famous surgeon, controls the others...
Doctor Edwards: Caliban imagines he's Ziska's slave - Rigo is dangerous, while Dan is quite harmless ...
Doctor Edwards: They must have built those devilish traps and devices after they imprisoned us.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) showed an 86-minute version with an uncredited music score on cable. See more »


Referenced in The Band Wagon (1953) See more »

User Reviews

Things Go Bump In The Night With Lon Chaney
18 October 2001 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

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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None | English

Release Date:

16 March 1925 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dom wariatów See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (New York opening)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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