Sunday Nite Surreal: Night Monster (1942)

NIGHT MONSTER (1942)

What kind of a thing is it?

Directed by Ford Beebe with a screenplay by Clarence Upson Young, with moody frames by cinematographer Charles Van Enger (Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein 1948, Bride of the Gorilla 1951) Set Design by (using sets from The Wolfman 1941 & The Ghost of Frankenstein 1942) Russell A. Gausman (Shadow of a Doubt 1943, Phantom of the Opera 1943, Touch of Evil 1958) and Gowns by Vera West.

Night Monster features Bela Lugosi in a lesser role as the butler Rolf, Lionel Atwill as Dr. King, Lief Erickson as Laurie the lecherous chauffeur, Irene Hervey as Dr. Lynn Harper, Ralph Morgan as Kurt Ingston, Don Porter as Dick Baldwin, Nils Asther as Agor Singh, Doris Lloyd as Sarah Judd, Frank Reicher as Dr. Timmons, Robert Homans as Constable Cap Beggs, Fay Helm as Margaret Ingston “How many of us are sane? You wouldn’t know, but I shall soon.” Cyril Delevanti as Torque and Janet Shaw as Milly the maid.

Janet Shaw as the waitress Louise Finch who works at the Till Two bar in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt 1943.

Universal billed Night Monster 1942 as a companion piece to The Mummy’s Tomb. starring Lon Chaney Jr.

Ralph Morgan plays a wealthy recluse Kurt Ingston who is bound to his wheel chair never to walk again. Ingston invites to his ominous Ingston Towers, the very group of doctors who left him hopelessly paralyzed with both his legs amputated (there will be a more stunning revelation later on). There, they are assembled at his secluded estate, shrouded in a menacing fog, to witness a miraculous healing session performed by an enigmatic Swami Agor Singh (Nils Asther) who can teach “a method by which man can grow new tissues at will.” 

The sinister housekeeper played by wonderful character actress Doris Lloyd and psychiatrist played by Irene Hervey.

As Dr. Lynn Harper – “My study of the mind has convinced me how little we know of its powers.”

Agor Singh-“A little knowledge of the occult is dangerous. Unless it’s used for good, disaster will follow its wake. That is Cosmic Law!”

Margaret Ingston –“Blood… the whole house reeks of it. The air is charged with death and hatred and something that’s unclean”

Dick Baldwin-“How is that the blood didn’t dematerialize with the rest?”

Agor Singh-“There are certain details in the process that we are not allowed to explain to the uninitiated.”

Lief Erickson plays the skirt chasing chauffeur and Irene Hervey is a psychiatrist called in to tend to the unstable Margaret Ingston played by Fay Helm!

Night Monster Bela
The Swami played by Nils Asther and Bela Lugosi though receiving top billing only plays a bit part as the disagreeable butler Rolf.

Soon, one by one, the doctors turn up dead along with several meddling servants who know more than they should.

There begins the mysterious sightings of an eerie prowler who roams the fog drenched grounds of the estate. Also a guest at Ingston Towers is Irene Hervey playing the beautiful psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Harper who comes to see Langston’s unstable daughter Margaret, and mystery writer Dick Baldwin (Don Porter) who tries to solve the mystery of the murders.

Night Monster acts as an Old Dark House suspense-supernatural classical horror film that possesses an eerie otherworldly atmosphere while not filled with truly shocking moments, most of which happens within the mansion, Beebe has an instinctive touch at creating the air of peril and inducing some real palpable shudders. One of the more potent examples of this is when the terrified maid Milly Carson played by Janet Shaw is racing through the menacing fog soaked night, pursued by an unseen attacker, off screen we hear her violent screams followed by the night sounds of crickets and swamp frogs. The differentiation between the dead stillness and the nocturnal symphony that resumes is quite effective. Also a creepy touch is the skeleton that bleeds…

 

7 thoughts on “Sunday Nite Surreal: Night Monster (1942)

  1. Thanks for the review and clip.Will watch movie on youtube. Did you ever write about actors like Nils Asther and Terhan Bey who often played “exotics”? Big fan of those two.

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  2. Wooo. Been a long time since I’ve seen this, so thanks for the memory zap. I’ll have to see if TCM has this in its Halloween or October rotation, but my backup plans are GhoulTube or poking at a source in another country for a disc version.

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    1. It’s a creepy little obscure gem and I highly recommend it just for the nostalgia of watching an old fashioned creep tale. Bela isn’t in it as the lead, but his presence always adds something special!

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  3. And of course, there’s the non-sequel: The Navy Versus The Night Monsters (not really, lol, but could you imagine the logic stretch to tie those together?)…

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      1. OLD DARK HOUSE is airing on TCM tmw. 8p.m. Was surprised last week when TCM aired PORTRAIT OF JASON.I had not seen it since it was released 50+ yrs. ago. Are you a cinema verite fan?

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