24 November 2014

House of Horrors (1946)
65 min.
Directed by Jean Yarbrough.
With Robert Lowery, Rondo Hatton, Virginia Grey, Bill Goodwin, Martin Kosleck, Alan Napier, Howard Freeman, Joan Fulton, Virginia Christie.
Marcel De Lange (Kosleck) is a struggling sculptor who can't seem to get no respect from the art critics. So he decides to end it all by jumping in the city river.

Someone's already beat him to it.

At the riverbank, Marcel discovers a body adrift in the water, barely alive, and he rescues the poor creature.

But Marcel has just saved the deformed, hulking strangler known as "The Creeper" (Hatton)!

Should Marcel turn the Creeper over to the police, like a good citizen? Or should he instead enlist the aid of his new psycho friend to eliminate his critic enemies, one by one? The latter sure makes for more fun!

Coming at the tail end of Universal's first great horror cycle, House of Horrors is a surprisingly solid number. Kosleck - reminding one of Udo Kier - delivers some punch as the kooky Marcel, a poor artist more than misguided but somehow less than flat out deranged.

Hatton is terrific as the Creeper, a role he originated in the 1944 Sherlock Holmes mystery Pearl of Death.

Best of all, though, is Grey as sassy Joan Medford, the community art reporter who sniffs out the wrongdoing at Marcel's eccentric art pad and decides to discover the truth behind the recent unexplained murders...at any cost.

This can't compete with any of Universal's classic early '30s horrors - in some ways it's a rather cardboard attempt by the mid '40s to breathe new life into the genre - but House of Horrors keeps its head above water.

Also known as Murder Mansion.

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