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Unexpectedly original and worth seeing
MartinHafer10 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This movie really surprised me. In the 1940s, Bela Lugosi made a huge number of grade-Z horror films. They might be fun to watch, but all too often the films have tons of plot holes and they were obviously made with practically no budget. This film, however, has very good production values and is quite original--and as a result, I had a very good time watching it.

Now before I go any further, it's important to note that although Lugosi got top billing and the videotape cover prominently shows his face, the film really ISN'T a Bela Lugosi film. His role, unfortunately for "Lugosi-philes" is amazingly small and ill-defined. He never seems to be the star nor does he have much to do with all the weird murders that are occurring in the film. In many ways, this is like the appearance of Lionel Atwill in the film--he's there but his part is terribly small.

Despite this, the film is still excellent and most of this is due to the excellent writing. The story is quite original and although I could guess early on who was committing all the murders, the way it was handled was very clever. Probably the best part of the film, though, was the part played by Robert Homans, as the Constable. He has so many wonderful and funny lines that I thoroughly loved watching the old curmudgeon investigate the crimes.

Finally, a bit of trivia. The rich old man in the film is played by Ralph Morgan. He bears a lot of physical resemblance to Frank Morgan (the Wizard from the Wizard of Oz) because they were brothers.
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A fatal consultation
bkoganbing3 October 2015
Some medical doctors led by Lionel Atwill are brought to the estate of the rich, but bedridden Ralph Morgan. They're there to watch a demonstration of the occult powers of a Hindu fakir played by Nils Asther.

Well this guy really has something, by sheer concentrated will power Asther creates a skeleton and might create a whole man before his concentration is broken. If you can teach this technique to amputees you might have them recreate and grow lost limbs. Of course this is all in the experimental stage. But pretty soon a whole lot of people around the estate start dying and the more that die, the suspect list gets shorter for police captain Robert Homans. In fact all the doctors but Irene Harvey start dying off as well as other guests and staff of the household.

Universal Pictures in this Gothic horror story with no real monsters as such spent a lot of this budget on getting a slew of players who specialize and/or have played some creepy villains. The cast is led by Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill who are the only ones billed above the title. Lugosi plays Morgan's butler and legend has it that butlers are the first to be looked at in any mystery. But believe any one or combination thereof are plausible culprits.

Quite an unusual ending here though, but keep in mind what all these people are gathered to witness. Night Monster is shot on the cheap, but this cast of players more than makes up for it.
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Good Mystery and Cast
Michael_Elliott12 October 2016
Night Monster (1942)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

A paralized man (Ralph Morgan) calls to his home several doctors who are soon being murdered. Is it the loyal butler (Bela Lugosi) or perhaps someone else?

NIGHT MONSTER is often called a Universal horror film but there are much more "mystery" elements than your average horror film. At 72-minute the film isn't the greatest thing the studio ever released but there are enough interesting moments to make it worth viewing. With that said, there are certainly some flaws as well and I'd place most of them on the door of director Ford Beebe. I thought the direction here was somewhat lacking and there really wasn't a very good pace throughout the film.

With that said, the story itself is an interesting one and for the most part I thought the mystery played out extremely well and I thought the film managed to keep you guessing as to who was committing the murders. Lugosi gets top billing but he plays a pretty worthless role. He certainly doesn't get too much to do and especially when you consider he played a butler in THE GORILLA and got a much better part out of it. Morgan was good in his small role as was Lionel Atwill. The cast is certainly the strongest thing going for the picture.

If you're a Universal fan then you'll certainly want to check this mystery out. Others should probably start with their classics and then work their way to this.
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The Old, Dull House...
mark.waltz23 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It starts off fine, then five minutes into the film, it lapses into predictability. There are a few surprise suspenseful moments here and there, and then, once again, bits and pieces of everything you've seen in every "Old Dark House" movie from "The Cat and the Canary" to "Rebecca". Not much cleverness was put into making this programmer where a bunch of eccentrics in a mystery house are all suspects in murder. There's the crippled patriarch (Ralph Morgan), a Mrs. Danvers type housekeeper (Doris Lloyd), a sinister doctor (Lionel Atwill), a dour butler (Bela Lugosi, repeating the role he had already done in "The Gorilla" and would later repeat in "One Body Too Many"), the heroine (Irene Hervey, taking on the role usually given to Evelyn Ankers), hero (Leif Erickson) and gloomy spinster (Fay Helm). How many are red herrings or victims, there's of course, one killer, and it is very easy to figure out.

This one lacks the humor given to the dozen films of the same era, whether starring Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Hugh Herbert, Joe E. Brown or Olsen and Johnson, so the result is an unsurprising mystery that Universal can't really disguise as being merely a step above similar who-done-its being done over at PRC and Monogram.
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A hugely enjoyable mystery thriller
Woodyanders30 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Frail rich recluse Kurt Ingston (well played by Ralph Morgan) invites the three doctors who turned him into a hopeless cripple to his remote desolate mansion in the swamps so they can get their just desserts. Naturally, said doctors are start getting bumped off left and right. Director Ford Beebe, working from an absorbing script by Clarence Upson Young, relates the compelling story at a steady pace, develops a good deal of tension, and does a stellar job of creating and sustaining a strong sense of dread and gloom, with especially inspired use of the secluded fog-shrouded marshland location. This film further benefits from sound acting by a sturdy cast, with stand-out contributions by the always great Bela Lugosi as stern and sinister butler Rolf, Lionel Atwill as the pompous Dr. King, Leif Erikson as smarmy cad chauffeur Laurie, Irene Hervey as charming psychiatrist Dr. Lynne Harper, Don Porter as dashing writer Dick Baldwin, Nils Asther as exotic mentalist Agor Singh, Fay Helm as Ingston's neurotic sister Margaret, and Doris Lloyd as snippy housekeeper Ms. Judd. Charles Van Enger's sharp black and white cinematography offers plenty of memorably eerie images (you gotta love those huge creepy shadows cast on walls!). The robust film library score likewise hits the shuddery spot. But it's the extremely spooky ooga-booga atmosphere with the ever-present pervasive thick mist and ominous chorus of croaking frogs that suddenly become silent which in turn makes this movie so much fun to watch. Well worth seeing.
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Not Creepy In This Day-And-Age
ccthemovieman-127 February 2008
Thinking this was a horror movie (billed as such) and starring guys like Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, I wound up disappointed.....even more so because this movie started off pretty well and had promise. However, that "promise" was never delivered. There wasn't enough suspense or action to keep my interesting after the first hour. It got way too talky for what it should have been.

Fans of the two guys mentioned above will be very disappointed. Lugosi plays the butler and does very little and Atwill literally disappears halfway through. Yet, both men got pretty good billing on the opening credits. It's misleading.

The story isn't bad but, outside of some good sound effects like the frogs and the crickets, is not the creepy movie it's advertised as being. Maybe in 1942 this creeped out audiences, but it wouldn't today. Then again, I only saw this movie when it was on TV and commercials were continually interrupting things. That's a big reason I don't even watch TV shows any more unless they are on DVD. Perhaps if this film ever comes out on disc, I'd give it another shot.
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Death by yoga.
BA_Harrison29 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
The killer who prowls the foggy swampland surrounding Ingston Towers is so terrifying that even the frogs stop croaking when he is near. Could the murderer be Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan), seeking revenge on the doctors who left him a limbless invalid? Of course it is, but how is he managing to stalk and strangle his victims with missing arms and legs?

Night Monster features a bizarre plot twist that is unlike any other: the killer can materialise his missing limbs through the power of the mind (a trick taught to him by yogi Agor Singh, played by Nils Asther). Other than that, this is a fairly routine murder mystery, with many of the tried and tested elements one would expect from the genre - an old dark house with hidden passageways, swirling fog, and lots of potential victims - plus supporting roles for horror mainstays Bela Lugosi (who plays the butler) and Lionel Atwill (who plays one of the doomed doctors). Glamour is provided by Janet Shaw as unfortunate maid Milly (who doesn't deserve her fate), and Irene Hervey as psychiatrist Dr. Harper.
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Mysterious killing of three medical men.
michaelRokeefe18 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Three medical doctors and a psychologist are summoned to the old Ingston Mansion to determine the sanity of the Miss Margaret Ingston (Fay Helm). The mansion belongs to her father Kurt (Ralph Morgan), who has been left crippled by the same doctors there for their assessment. Dr. Lynn Harper (Irene Hervey), the psychologist, gives the young woman a clean bill of health, while the other doctors are stumped for a diagnosis. Soon the old mansion in the swamp becomes a house of shady mystery. One by one the doctors, who left Kurt Ingston, a hard to please master and recluse, are maniacally killed. Dr. Harper has been receiving unfounded threats, but she still remains alive. A nice who-done-it directed by Ford Beebe and said to have been filmed in only 11 days.

Other players include: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwell, Frank Reicher, Nils Asther, Lief Erickson, Don Porter and Doris Lloyd.
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Now, Where Did I Put My Legs?
dougdoepke5 August 2010
Doctors are called to old mansion filled with oddball characters who start getting killed off in mysterious fashion.

One thing for sure—the lighting bill must have been paid in pocket change. It's so dark in that mansion you may need a flashlight. But then what else can you expect from a Universal horror picture, where the brightest thing is usually a full moon. My only question is what Lugosi is doing as a butler, of all things. He's so polite and unthreatening, you may have to look twice. Plus, he even has to act scared in one scene-- it's almost like Dracula suddenly caught working at Walmart.

But my favorite is Laurie the randy chauffeur who behaves like he's auditioning for a porn movie, that is, when he's not mugging it up or leering at 60-year old women. It's almost like he's wandered onto the wrong set. Then too, I like Robert Homans whose cop looks old enough for Social Security, but's still got the spunk of a teenager. On the other hand, too bad that Irene Hervey seems terminally bored by all the murderous goings-on. In fact, not even the handsome Don Porter can arouse her interest.

Anyhow, the movie manages a grand staircase and a few surprises amid all the hocus-pocus, but is otherwise standard Universal horror fare-- always good for a few of laughs, a few chills, and a lot of harmless fun.
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Just what is going on at Ingston Towers?
hitchcockthelegend10 March 2010
Tho Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill are the big name draws here, they are in fact only supporting actors within the story. But don't let that detract from this being the entertaining murder mystery spooky house picture it is. Basically we are at a house in the South in the swamp region. It is the home of Kurt Ingston, a recluse who is wheelchair bound. Here on this evening are a number of doctors invited by Ingston, who start to be killed off one by one. So who is responsible? The butler {Lugosi}, the weird housekeeper, the chauffeur, the mentally ill daughter? Or could it have something to do with the mystical Agor Singh who has been teaching Ingston the fabled art of mind over matter? Either way the mystery holds tight throughout and nothing is ever quite as it seems.

For sure it's a Universal Pictures B movie, but it's the kind of effective creeper that gets in and does its job with the minimum of fuss. High on atmosphere and containing a ream of interesting characters, it's acted professionally and finishes on a high. It may not be "And Then There Were None", and those who wish to solve the mystery before the reveal will not find it hard to do so. But this is a decent entry in a lovely sub-genre of horror, so turn off the lights and listen out for those frogs. 6.5/10
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Excellent B horror film from Universal
preppy-313 October 2010
Crippled Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan) has no arms or legs despite the fact that three doctors tried to save him (from what is never said). He invites all three of them to his creepy estate and says there are no hard feelings...but then the doctors start getting killed and his house is full of suspicious characters.

I caught this on late night TV when I was a kid and remember being pleasurably spooked by it. It's nice to see it still holds up all these years later. First off don't let the top billing of Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill fool you--they're hardly in the movie. Lugosi is totally wasted as a sinister butler and Atwill chews the scenery but is gone halfway through the movie. Most of it deals with Morgan and various supporting characters. The good thing is all the supporting actors are interesting and well-acted especially by Leif Erickson as a lecherous chauffeur and Nils Asther as a sinister yogi. The direction is very good and the movie has a nice dark atmosphere. There's a VERY spooky scene where one of the doctors is approached by the killer. Another nice touch is all the frogs and animals in the swamp surrounding the estate go dead quiet when the killer appears. The sudden dead silence is more than a little unnerving. The final sequence when you find out who the killer is doesn't make a lot of sense but the movie is so good that you let that go. A low-budget horror from Universal that is exceptionally well-done. I give it an 8.
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NIGHT MONSTER (Ford Beebe, 1942) **
Bunuel197618 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Having become acquainted with most of the classic Universal horror films at a very early age, it's rather surprising that it has taken me much longer to get to the lesser entries in the cycle. Thankfully, the Universal Monster Legacy and the Bela Lugosi Collections have introduced me to some elusive titles but, still, there are a few which, perhaps because of their obvious inferiority, are still sadly missing and the film under review here is just one of them…

First things first: while Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill never quite enjoyed the (well-deserved) renown Boris Karloff got from his horror performances - and let's not forget that both of them were somewhat on the skids at the time this film was made due to private scandals - I wasn't expecting to see them appearing in such thankless roles, especially since their names were shown above the title in the credits! I guess anyone who engages Lugosi as a butler deserves all he gets (it's also amusing to me that despite living in America for almost 30 years, Lugosi never managed to drop his very thick Hungarian accent which, I suppose, is one of his charms) and Atwill is an impatient surgeon who's mercilessly picked on by one of his colleagues (for no reason I could clearly discern) and whose untimely departure from the "old dark house" of the movie brings about his death…with more than half the film yet to unfold! Lugosi, apparently, also gets his in the film's fiery climax…or does he? For being the nominal star of the film, the carelessness with which his fate is (or rather not) dealt with is disappointing to say the least.

For the rest, the film introduces too many characters too quickly so that it wasn't until some time into the picture that I was able to make heads or tails of who was engaged to do what in the creepy mansion. Some of these characters were engaging, especially Nils Ashter's spiritualist, Leif Erickson's boorish chauffeur, Robert Homans' investigating constable and Don Porter's whodunnit writer but some of the others (like Fay Helm's disturbed Margaret, Doris Lloyd's scheming housekeeper and, fatally, Ralph Morgan's crippled master of the house) were boring or downright annoying. Then, the sheer regularity of the murders (which happen literally moments apart at times) gives it a repetitive quality which does the film no favors, especially since none of the houseguests ever seem to be aware of anything remotely wrong happening in the very next room!

Still, for all that, the film is never less than entertaining and I can see it improving with further viewings; after all, it is crammed full of that typical Universal fog-laden ambiance which, for obvious reasons – not least the usage of the same title background and parts of the music score – reminds one of THE WOLF MAN (1941) and other Universal horror fare of the period. Besides, even if the film is not able to capitalize fully on it, its premise of mentally growing artificial limbs is an intriguing one and, again, not too dissimilar from the one explored in DOCTOR X (1932).
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"The air is charged with death and hatred and something that's unclean!"
utgard1413 February 2014
Interesting "B" old dark house thriller about somebody or something killing people right and left at the estate of wealthy cripple Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan). Who the culprit is won't be a huge shock to you but how they are doing it is pretty cool. The main selling point of this film is the terrific cast, even though some of the bigger names have small roles. Despite being top billed, Bela Lugosi plays a minor part as a butler. Lionel Atwill also has a minor role as a doctor. Leif Erickson plays a lusty chauffeur and Nils Asther a Hindu mystic. Janet Shaw has a memorable part early on as a sassy maid who can't get away from the Ingston estate fast enough. But the best parts go to Ralph Morgan and Fay Helm as the deranged brother and sister. This is a great movie to pass an hour. Universal made it and it's usually billed as a horror film. It does have some supernatural overtones but at its heart it's basically a murder mystery. A good one, though.
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Impressed even Alfred Hitchcock
kevinolzak13 April 2011
1942's NIGHT MONSTER was a staple of Universal's SHOCK! package of classic horrors issued to television in the late 50s, showing up 6 times on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater from 1966 to 1983. This was the only Universal to grant Bela Lugosi top billing since the 1931 Dracula, with even 1932's MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE listing him below not-so-virginal ingénue Sidney Fox (a triumph for the casting couch!). For the record, other servant/butler roles Lugosi played can be found in 1933's NIGHT OF TERROR, 1939's THE GORILLA, 1944's ONE BODY TOO MANY, 1945's THE BODY SNATCHER, 1946's GENIUS AT WORK, and 1956's THE BLACK SLEEP. His Rolf has little to do, but he was still a regular participant in the studio's horrors, and always a welcome presence. 'A scream in the night through the fog on Pollard Slough,' hiding something so hideously terrifying that even the frogs stop croaking whenever its shadow passes by (if that doesn't set the proper mood, nothing will!). The opening credits are presented in front of the same forest set built for THE WOLF MAN, featuring music identical to the credits for THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN. Second billed Lionel Atwill also plays a small role, but it's the one doctor he's best suited for, getting good scene stealing mileage out of his exasperated reactions to Francis Pierlot's gland obsessed fellow physician. Kudos to beloved character actor Frank Reicher, best remembered for KING KONG, whose sensitive realistic portrayal of Dr. Timmons is vastly different from the bombastic Atwill. Tending the wealthy and powerful Kurt Ingston in his time of illness, the three have left him 'a helpless cripple, a misshapen thing that must hide even from the servants in the house.' Ralph Morgan is in top form as the wheelchair bound owner of Ingston Towers, with hilarious support from Leif Erickson as the lecherous chauffeur Laurie, even daring to flirt with Doris Lloyd's icy housekeeper, whom he refers to as 'old frozen face.' Little used actress Janet Shaw enjoys one of her few major roles, as Millie Carson, the suspicious maid who abruptly quits without notice, but makes the fatal mistake of returning for her belongings after nightfall, becoming the first on screen victim of the prowling horror, to the eerie silence of the fog shrouded darkness. Director Alfred Hitchcock was preparing SHADOW OF A DOUBT at Universal that summer, and screened this picture because he wanted to cast Janet as a burned out waitress in his film ('I'd just die for a ring like that'). Hitchcock was duly impressed by what he saw in NIGHT MONSTER, and was amazed that it was shot with great style and pace in just 11 days by producer-director Ford Beebe, who had just graduated from serial work. Despite the disappointment for some Lugosi buffs, this fan has long championed its qualities to remain genuinely frightening even today, receiving its long awaited due as a Universal horror classic, a real ensemble piece where the entire cast stands out, a genuine chiller that featured prominently on Chiller Theater, perfect viewing in the dark at 2:00 in the morning.
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"She's Not A Doctor, She's A Dame!"...
azathothpwiggins26 June 2021
In NIGHT MONSTER, a group of doctors gathers at the notorious Ingston mansion, only to spend an evening experiencing horror upon horror. Or, something like that.

Basically, this is another "old ddark house"-type movie, featuring a gaggle of visitors / victims / suspects. There's a turban-wearing mystic, several murders, and magically appearing bloodstains!

While not all that terrifying, it is a lot of fun to watch!

Bela Lugosi does a nice turn as the nasty butler, Rolf. Lionel Atwill puts in another solid, ultra-serious performance as Dr. King. Watch for Ralph Morgan and Leif Erickson as well. Erickson is great as Laurie, the womanizing, he-man chauffeur!

Those who enjoy "old school" spookers loaded with atmosphere, can't go wrong here!...
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Unusual Monster Yarn.
AaronCapenBanner24 October 2013
Ralph Morgan plays millionaire recluse Kurt Ingston, who was left a hopeless cripple by the bungling of three doctors(played by Lionel Atwill, Frank Reicher, and Francis Pierlot) who are nonetheless invited to his mansion in the swamps. They accept, and unsurprisingly are murdered one by one. Meanwhile, a mystic is also in attendance, and seems to have the ability to make a bleeding skeleton materialize! Does any of this connect to the murders, or is another party responsible? Strange film also costars Bela Lugosi, once again wasted in a supporting role. Film has some imagination in its plot and ultimate resolution, but is very far-fetched, bordering on absurd. Some good atmosphere compensates though.
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A Creepy Mystery-Horror
Rainey-Dawn10 February 2016
This one is full of atmosphere: spooky old house, fog, croaking frogs, chirping crickets, Lugosi and Atwill's presence, a man without limbs, a killer on the loose, supernatural occult elements, a mystery to solve and more. This is one Universal Horror Classic that you do not want to miss.

It's too bad that Bela Lugosi's role was not bigger but then again his part as a creepy butler made the film all that much more fun to watch. Lionel Atwill is just as scary to watch.

The climax of the film is a real treat as the mystery is solved, the murderer reveled. Hard to take your eyes off the last 15-20 minutes of it.

Watch this one on a (cliched) "dark and stormy night".

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Great horror movie
jacobjohntaylor16 August 2019
This is one of the scariest movies ever. See it. It has a great story line. It also has great acting. It is a very scary movie. 6.4 is underrating it. I give 9 out of 10. This is one of scariest movies ever.
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Odd-Ball Universal Fare
BaronBl00d15 July 2007
During the 1940's decade, Universal Pictures attempted to continue making horror films as they did the previous decade but did try to re-invent and package them a bit differently. Their financial success never mirrored that of its earliest successes, but films like The Night Monster showed that they still had the wherewithal to make classic, good horror yarns. This film is different from most Universal horror films for a number of reasons. Yes, Bela Lugois and Lionel Atwill are in the film. Lugosi is yet again wasted playing a butler - a role I sometimes tire of seeing him relegated to for a man of his considerable talents. Atwill does better as a pompous(can he be any other way?) doctor called with two other doctors to the home of the rich man their medicine was not able to save - he was now paralyzed from the waist down. Ralph Morgan plays the crippled man hosting the doctors, another doctor called in by his sister who believes she is crazy, a hypnotist, and a couple of other servants who act and expect better than their positions might suggest. Swirling around this is a series of murders, secretive looks and discussions, and the sighting by several of a monster that comes out at night. The Night Monster is really more of a mystery than a true horror film though the eerie, foggy atmosphere helps convey significant menace. The story isn't really particularly hard to figure out, but all the actors do a very good job playing their roles. Bela is really wasted unfortunately. He certainly could have been better utilized. Atwill as always is very, very smart and clever as he delivers his dialog. Frank Reicher, of King Kong fame, gives a nice turn as a fellow doctor caught in some terrible plot. While maybe not one of Universal's brightest stars, The Night Monster is a good, entertaining film.
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Not a Very Good Movie
arfdawg-119 September 2019
This is a very slow and tedious film to watch.

Even tho it was written for the screen, it shows as an English drawing room drama stage play.

The action is moronic and unbelievable. It makes zero sense.

Move on
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Twas a Foggy, Foggy Night!
bsmith55529 January 2021
Warning: Spoilers
"Night Monster" was another of those foggy night pictures turned out by Universal in the 1940s. Top billed Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill have little to do this time around.

Rich and powerful but wheel chair bound Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan) has called the three doctors who had operated on him rendering him without limbs to his creepy mansion for a planned retribution. His unstable sister, Margaret (Fay Helm) has reached out to Dr. Lynne Harper (Irene Hervey) unbeknownst to Kurt for help.

Ingston maid Molly Carson (Janet Shaw) is leery of the goings on and quits her job. The chauffeur Laurie (Leif Erikson) is driving her to town when he pulls over and tries to come on to her. She flees and is picked up by Jed Harmon (Eddy Waller) who later brings her back to collect her possessions. Some one phones the gatekeeper Torque (Cyril Deleventi) to tell Harmon not to wait as Molly has decided to stay the night. Not true. When Molly finds Harmon gone she is forced to walk when she hears noises and winds up murdered.

The three doctors, King (Atwill), Timmons (Frank Reicher) and Phipps (Francis Pierlot) arrive. Dr. Harper whose car has broken down is rescued by Dick Baldwin (Don Porter), a mystery writer and friend of Ingston.

Ingston calls everyone to the living room to have his friend Agor Singh (Nils Asther) give a demonstration of the transfer of matter from one place to another. A skeleton magically appears along with a blood stain on the carpet.

The three doctors are murdered one by one and Police constable Cap Beggs (Robert Homans) is called in. Then Laurie is found murdered.When Baldwin spirits Dr. Harper away a mysterious figure emerges from within the house and begins to stalk the couple. Could this be the killer? Who is it?

Lugosi and Atwill are totally wasted in this film Lugosi is the sinister looking butler Rolf (the butler didn't do it) and Atwill the first doctor to be murdered not even half way into the film. Homans as the Police Constable is too old for his role, I thought.

Standard Universal fare.
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The House of Mystery
lugonian18 November 2018
NIGHT MONSTER (Universal, 1942), produced and directed by Ford Beebe, starring Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, is more murder mystery than horror film regardless of what the title depicts and its leading players. Lugosi and Atwill, resident horror stars for the studio, interestingly don't play mad scientists reviving the dead nor creating monsters, or pit against each other, but are actually its individual supporting players to the leading supporting actors. Taken from an original screenplay by Clarence Upson-Young, the plot itself may have been an original idea according to the opening credits, but actually a recycled story with creative new ideas that makes this one of the better mysteries to come out for this second feature "B" unit.

The story takes place at an estate known as Ingston Towers located in a secluded location surrounded by marshlands. The house of mystery contains residents as Rolf (Bela Lugosi), the butler; Laurie (Leif Erickson), the chauffeur; Margaret Ingston (Fay Helm) a young heiress led to believed to be insane by its domineering housekeeper, Miss Sarah Judd (Doris Lloyd), who cleans off blood stains off the carpet; Torgue (Cyril Delevanti), the gate keeper; Millie Carson (Janet Shaw), a maid who quits due to strange occurrences; Curt Ingston (Ralph Morgan), the owner and old man whose paralyzed condition from an operation by several doctors has led him to become a helpless recluse. Ingston hires Agor Singh (Nils Asther), a turpin-wearing man with mystic powers, to help him out spiritually. Because of mysterious circumstances that have been occurring, Millie informs Constable Cap Beggs (Robert Homans) in town, but he's unable to assist her accusations without any proof of evidence. After Millie returns to the estate to pick up for her personal belongings, she leaves the home to is later found dead in the marshes. Arriving at the estate are Lynne Harper (Irene Hervey), a psychiatrist sent for by Margaret to prove to others that she is not insane; Dick Baldwin (Don Porter), a mystery writer; and doctors King (LIonel Atwill), Timmons (Frank Reicher) and Phipps (Francis Pierlot), the men responsible for Ingston's bed-ridden condition, also enter the scene. Eventually a series of one-by-one murders take place, having Beggs to come and do some investigation. Also in the cast is Eddy Waller playing Jeb Harmon.

Regardless of Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill receiving star billing, the film basically belongs to others in the cast, especially Ralph Morgan. Lugosi plays the butler with little to do. Considering its present casting, Lugosi and Nils Asther (as the medium), it might have been more effective had Lugosi and Asther switched roles, as with the switch casting of both Lionel Atwill and Ralph Morgan as well. Atwill, surprisingly has even less to do here, and is sadly wasted. While Fay Helm and Doris Lloyd, heiress and housekeeper who hate each other, get meatier roles, there's Janet Shaw (best known for her small role as the waitress in Alfred Hitchcock's SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1942), with her distinctive throaty voice and personality, who gathers enough attention. Don Porter and Irene Hervey typically support as the couple who meet and become romantically involved. Another familiar pattern is the background underscoring used in many Universal thrillers of the day. For a Bela Lugosi movie, NIGHT MONSTER is definitely better structured than those cheaply made productions he did at the same time over at Monogram Studio (1941-1944)s. At least budget and production values by Universal standards are much higher than Monogram's.

Commonly shown on television in the 1960s and 70s as part of the horror movie package that often aired Saturday nights, NIGHT MONSTER has become forgotten over the years due to lack of revivals. Eventually NIGHT MONSTER did get resurrected again on video cassette in the mid 1990s and DVD a decade later. Revivals on cable television notably on ME-TV playing part of Saturday evening's "Svengoolie," and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: October 24, 2018), assuring modern-day interest and rediscovery to a new generation of viewers interested in mystery-horror tales such as this. (**1/2).
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Lugosi is unused effectively here.
oscar-3525 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoiler/plot- 1942, A Lugosi film as he plays the butler to a crippled eccentric millionaire that blames a medical team for his loss of arms and legs. Several strange occurrences and deaths occur at the creepy estate needing investigation by local police and press writers. The use of the occult is attributed at the end.

*Special Stars- Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill,

*Theme- If you believe hard enough, a person's physical limitations can be rectified for mayhem or vengeance.

*Based on- Hindu mystic theories.

*Trivia/location/goofs- The film ending is quite confusing, unsatisfactory, and leaves the viewer wanting an explanation to the nonsense given.

*Emotion- A somewhat forgettable 'who done it' Bela Lugosi film. Lugosi is lost in an actual supporting 'butler' role while Atwill steals the film's plot until his character is murdered off. Both stars are a sad loss for the light-weight film.
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The Silence Of The Frogs
ferbs544 August 2021
Warning: Spoilers
1941 had been a very good year for the Universal horror film, during which time the studio released "Man-Made Monster," "Horror Island" and "The Black Cat" in the spring, and the eternal glory that is "The Wolf Man" in early December. And as America geared up for war at the beginning of 1942, the studio continued to crank out impeccably crafted horror films to entertain the masses. March would see the release of the fourth film in its Frankenstein franchise, "The Ghost of Frankenstein"; July would feature the well-nigh-forgotten picture "Invisible Agent" (a very loose "Invisible Man" sequel); and October would witness the release of two new films, "Night Monster" and "The Mummy's Tomb" (the third of six Mummy films from the studio!). The only one of those four that was not part of a Universal franchise, "Night Monster" was one that this viewer had never previously seen before, and it was with great anticipation that I recently plopped it into my DVD player at home. I had very high hopes for this particular picture, starring as it does two of Universal's greatest horror icons, Bela Lugosi (who had already appeared in some two dozen horror outings for Universal since Dracula in '31) and Lionel Atwill (the great English actor who had already appeared in Universal's "Mystery of the Wax Museum" in '33, "Son of Frankenstein" in '39, "Man-Made Monster" and "The Ghost of Frankenstein," and who would go on to appear in "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man" in '43 and "House of Frankenstein" in '44). And it also featured Irene Hervey, whose work I had previously only enjoyed in one of my favorite TV programs of the '60s, "Honey West," playing Aunt Meg, and in a very small role in Clint Eastwood's wonderful horror film, '71's "Play Misty for Me" (one of this viewer's all-time faves), and who I had long wanted to see in something more vintage. So yes, my hopes were very high for this one. And as it turns out, the film did not disappoint.

And yet, as it turns out, although Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill are the top-billed actors in this film, they are actually relegated to fairly minor roles in it. The film introduces us to the residents of an elegant yet creepy abode called Ingston Towers, which stands hard by a foggy and frog-infested swamp. In the house we find its owner, Curt Ingston (Ralph Morgan, the look-alike brother of Frank "The Wizard of Oz" Morgan), a quadriplegic with completely paralyzed arms and legs; his sister Margaret (Fay Helm, who had appeared in "The Wolf Man" and would, in '43, be featured in Universal's "Captive Wild Woman"), who may or may not be insane; Agar Singh (Swedish actor Nils Asther here portraying a man from India), who is teaching Curt the mind secrets of the Far East; Mrs. Judd (Doris Lloyd, whose filmography extends all the way back to the '20s); Lawrie the chauffeur (Leif Erickson, who many may recall as the Dad from '53's "Invaders From Mars"), a leering and licentious sort who seems to hit on every female he comes across, including old Mrs. Judd (!); Rolf the butler (our Bela); the crusty and treacherous gateman Torque (Cyril Delavanti, who would also appear in "Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man," '43's "Son of Dracula" and '44's "The Invisible Man's Revenge," and whose work I recently enjoyed in several episodes of the great '60s anthology show "The Twilight Zone"); and pretty blonde Millie, the maid (Janet Shaw, who also appeared in "The Mummy's Tomb" that month and would be featured in Universal's "House of Horrors" four years later), who flees the house to report some terrible goings-on there to the law and is soon found dead, strangled, in the nearby swamp. And the household soon grows even more populated when the three doctors who Curt blames for his present condition are summoned to the house. Those medical men are Dr. King (Lionel Atwill), Dr. Timmons (Frank Reicher, here practically unrecognizable as Capt. Englehorn from the classic "King Kong" of a decade earlier), and Dr. Phipps (Francis Pierlot). Coincidentally, another doctor has just been summoned to the abode, one Dr. Lynn Harper (beautiful Irene Hervey, 33 here), a psychiatrist who has been desperately called in by the lunatic (?) Margaret. And to round out this cast of characters, also appearing on the scene is a horror writer and friendly neighbor of the Ingstons, Dick Baldwin (Don Porter, who would be seen in Universal's "She-Wolf of London" four years later), and the crusty police captain investigating Millie's murder, Beggs (Robert Homans). With these dozen disparate sorts under one roof, an uncomfortable dinner is gone through, after which Singh demonstrates one of his uncanny abilities, materializing an ancient Greek skeleton from its tomb, from thousands of miles away! But this parlor game turns far more serious when the three male doctors start turning up dead in their respective bedchambers, strangled like Millie, and with a strange pool of blood found next to each of them! Who could the crazed killer be?!?!

"Night Monster," as might be expected, looks just great in beautiful B&W and is well played by its large and professional cast of players. The fact that Lugosi is given a smallish part to play - and a fairly nonsinister one at that, although Millie is quite correct in pointing out that he "looks like something you'd find under a wet rock" - and the fact that Atwill is the very first doctor to get snuffed out, do not work against the film's favor, happily, and it turns out that there are a lot of other things to enjoy in it. The film is often quite eerie, and features at least three exceptionally well-done scenes: the one in which the frogs that infest the nearby swamp stop croaking suddenly, immediately before the attack on Millie; the suddenly advancing shadow that obscures the camera lens as Timmons is attacked; and the revelation of the titular "night monster" at the end, a major surprise that few viewers will see coming. (And speaking of "eerie," I would like to say a quick word on the character of Lawrie making lustful passes at not only the young and pretty women in the film, such as Millie and Dr. Harper, but also at the older Mrs. Judd. At first blush, the character's attempt to seduce the much older woman strikes the viewer as a bit, uh, icky, but on further consideration, I decided that the film was actually being quite PC and ahead of its time in this regard, recognizing the fact that a hunky and virile man might indeed find a much more mature and "over the hill" woman an object of his prurient fancy. I cannot recall, offhand, another film of the era in which this obvious fact is so taken for granted. So additional points to "Night Monster" for this slight but unusual bit of business!) The film's conclusion is admittedly a bit far-fetched and hard to swallow, but not enough so to torpedo what is otherwise a very fine horror outing. Director Ford Beebe, who had previously helmed those wonderful Flash Gordon serials in the '30s, and then the Universal serial "The Phantom Creeps" ('39) and "The Invisible Man's Revenge," does a wonderful job here at keeping things moving along briskly (the entire film runs to a streamlined 73 minutes), and the camera work of cinematographer Charles Van Enger (who would go on to shoot the greatest horror-comedy of all time, Universal's "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein," in '48) really is a thing of artful beauty here. Van Enger makes great use of the film's many outdoor nighttime locales, the fog-shrouded swamp becoming a thing of ghostly beauty via his lens. And the cameraman makes the scene in which Lynn and Dick discuss their mutual concerns in a dark, candlelit room an instance of almost noirish intensity. Throughout the film, the use of light and shadow is meticulously well designed, giving the entire affair a creepy miasma that it would surely not have enjoyed without it. The film builds nicely to a bravura and flaming finale, when one of the characters utters the fateful and memorable words "...It was inevitable. A little knowledge of the occult is dangerous. Unless it's used for good, disaster will follow its wake. That is cosmic law..." So yes, though it is seldom discussed today and surely remains only a minor product of the great Universal horror factory, "Night Monster" still has much to offer to the modern-day viewer. It is seldom outright scary, but as mentioned, does yet sport three or four well-done scenes of fright. The film would be perfect fare to watch with your favorite 10-year-old nephew, who might get a kick out of the spooky swamp scenes and the outrageous and unbelievable monster to be seen at the film's tail end. And of course, it is essential viewing for all completists of the horror greats Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, and for those who wish to see what lovely Irene Hervey was all about in her youthful prime....
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Very good
EdgarST13 January 2019
Enjoyable, tense and well acted but forgotten little horror movie. Bela Lugosi has a secondary role, but he is excellent as Rolf, the evil butler. Add a wicked housekeeper, a loony sister, a frightening disabled host, a yoga teacher, a trio of scientists with a stooge touch, a chauffeur constantly in heat, a writer of cheap thrillers, a typically silly chief of police, and a good looking psychiatrist, and you have an excellent whodunit, even if you know from the beginning who the monster is, that combines elements of Poe's "House of Usher", Du Maurier's "Rebecca", Conan-Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and the short novel "The Undying Monster: A Tale of the Fifth Dimension", by Jessie Douglas Kerruish, produced by Fox also in 1942. . It is a mystery that this amusing script by Clarence Upson Young has not been remade.
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