October 20th, 2014: Night Monster (1942)

Night Monster

What It’s About: A man crippled from a botched operation, Kurt Ingston (the original Professor Mortis himself-Ralph Morgan!) summons his three doctors (Lionel Atwill, Frank Reicherto, and Francis Pierlot) to his mansion in the swamps after one of his other doctors is mysteriously murdered. In short order the doctors begin to die. Ingston’s supposedly insane sister Margaret (Fay Helm) brings in psychiatrist Dr. Harper (Irene Hervey) to figure out who is committing the murders. She’s helped out by the mystery novelist Dick Baldwin (Don Porter) and the local Constable (Robert Homans).Suspects include the Ingstons, Ingston’s Eastern guru Agor Singh (Nils Asther), creepy butler Rolf (Bela Lugosi), sleazy chauffeur Laurie (Leif Erickson), the devoted housekeeper that secretly loves Ingston (Doris Lloyd), and creepy gatekeeper Torque (Cyril Delevanti).  Can Dr. Harper and Baldwin stop the murderer?

Why Watch it Today?:  Bela Lugosi, born on this date in 1882, was already down to appearing in non-speaking roles by 1942, but this is one of his better movies we’ve yet to feature, a fun if inconsequential murder mystery/horror film in the Old Dark House tradition from Universal.  It features a nice little twist and at a scant 73 minutes doesn’t out stay its welcome.

Other Choices:  We’ve previously featured Lugosi in The Black Cat, The Raven, The Invisible Ray, Murders in the Rue Morgue, Black Friday, Son of Frankenstein, Mark of the Vampire, The Bowery at Midnight, The Body Snatcher, Island of Lost Souls, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Wolf ManBud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein, and The Devil Bat.  What is Professor Mortis’s insane grudge against Lugosi in Dracula?

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