Night Monster

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Night Monster
Night-Monster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ford Beebe
Produced by Ford Beebe
Written by Clarence Upson Young
Starring Bela Lugosi
Lionel Atwill
Music by Hans J. Salter
Cinematography Charles Van Enger
Edited by Jack Otterson
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • October 20, 1942 (1942-10-20) (U.S.)
Running time
73 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Night Monster is a 1942 American black-and-white horror film featuring Bela Lugosi and produced and distributed by Universal Pictures Company. The movie uses an original story and screenplay by Clarence Upson Young and was produced and directed by Ford Beebe. For box office value, star billing was given to Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill, but the lead roles were played by Ralph Morgan, Irene Hervey and Don Porter, with Atwill in a character role as a pompous doctor who becomes a victim to the title character, and Lugosi in a small part as a butler.

The film is in many respects a remake of Doctor X, with virtually the same denouement. Both films also feature Atwill as a doctor.

Plot[edit]

In a small town bordering a swampy region, unexplained murders and rumors of mysterious happenings surround the swamp-based home of the reclusive but respected Curt Ingston (Morgan). Ingston uses a wheelchair and has invited to his home the three doctors who were trying to cure him when his paralysis set in. Already in the household are his grim-humored butler Rolf; a lecherous chauffeur, Lawrie; a mannish housekeeper, Miss Judd; an Eastern mystic, Agar Singh; and Ingston's allegedly mentally ill sister, Margaret. Outside, the gate is watched by a shrivelled old hunchback called Torque.

Coincident with the arrival of the three male physicians is the appearance of a lady psychiatrist, Dr. Lynn Harper, summoned secretly by Margaret to prove she is not insane and help her secure freedom from the control of Ingston and Miss Judd. She arrives accompanied by a neighbor: mystery-writer Dick Baldwin, who rescued her after her car broke down in the swamp. Neither Ingston nor Miss Judd welcome her presence, but must contend with keeping her overnight until her car can be repaired.

Following dinner, at which Ingston's conviction that the three doctors are directly responsible for his current condition becomes evident, the party witnesses an exhibition of materialization of an Egyptian skeleton by Agar Singh. Dr. Harper is forbidden to meet with Margaret. Then, one by one, the doctors are frightfully killed as they prepare for bed. Suspecting Ingston, Dick and Police Captain Beggs confront him in his room, but discover he is not paralyzed but a quadruple amputee. Suspicion then falls on Lawrie, who was last seen driving a murdered ex-employee of the household back to town, but he, too, winds up dead.

Ultimately, Dick confronts the killer outside the estate as he menaces Lynn, and discovers it is Ingston after all: by studying under Agar Singh, he has learned how to materialize arms and legs, hands and feet for himself, long enough to accomplish his evil deeds. As Dick struggles with him to the death, Margaret sets fire to the unholy house, committing suicide while taking the malevolent Miss Judd with her. As the house burns to the ground, Dick and Lynn are saved by Agar Singh, when Singh shoots Ingston.

Cast[edit]

Actor Role
Ralph Morgan Curt Ingston
Irene Hervey Dr. Lynn Harper
Don Porter Dick Baldwin
Fay Helm Margaret Ingston
Nils Asther Agar Singh
Leif Erickson Lawrie
Doris Lloyd Sarah Judd
Robert Homans Police Captain "Cap" Beggs
Lionel Atwill Dr. King
Frank Reicher Dr. Timmons
Francis Pierlot Dr. Phipps
Bela Lugosi Rolf
Cyril Delavanti Torque
Janet Shaw Millie

Release[edit]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS by Universal Studios Home Entertainment on August 8, 1995.[1] The studio would release the film for the first time on DVD September 13, 2009 as a part of its two-disk "Universal Horror: Classic Movie Archive". It was later released by Willette Acquisition Corporation on March 17, 2015.[2]

Reception[edit]

The New York Times gave the film a negative review, calling it "tedious and fantastic".[3] Author and film critic Leonard Maltin awarded the film two and a half out of four stars, calling it an "intriguing grade-B thriller".[4] On his website Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings, Dave Sindelar called it one of his favorites among Universal's minor horror films, commending the film's use of sound as being quite effective.[5] Craig Butler from Allmovie wrote, "there's a lot that's wrong with Night Monster -- but there's also a fair amount of pleasure to be had from this admittedly-second tier Universal horror flick, especially for those who can't get enough of this kind of picture."[6] Graeme Clark from The Spinning Image gave the film 6/10 stars, calling it "[a] minor but not unenjoyable chiller".[7] TV Guide awarded the film 2/5 stars, stating that the film was only "Somewhat creepy".[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amazon.com: Night Monster [VHS]: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, Irene Hervey, Ralph Morgan, Don Porter, Nils Asther, Fay Helm, Frank Reicher, Doris Lloyd, Francis Pierlot, Robert Homans, Charles Van Enger, Ford Beebe, Milton Carruth, Donald H. Brown, Clarence Upson Young: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Amazon. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  2. ^ "Night Monster (1942) - Ford I. Beebe". Allmovie.com. AllMovie. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  3. ^ "THE SCREEN - The New York Times". New York Times.com. T.M.P. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  4. ^ Leonard Maltin; Spencer Green; Rob Edelman (January 2010). Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide. Plume. p. 468. ISBN 978-0-452-29577-3. 
  5. ^ Sindelar, Dave. "Night Monster (1942)". Fantastic Movie Musings.com. Dave Sidnelar. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  6. ^ Butler, Craig. "Night Monster (1942) - Ford I. Beebe". Allmovie.com. Craig Butler. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  7. ^ Clark, Graeme. "Night Monster Review (1942)". The Spinning Image.co.uk. Graeme Clark. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 
  8. ^ "Night Monster Movie Trailer, Reviews and More". TV Guide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved 14 August 2018. 

External links[edit]