“What is this thing that’s been hanging over us for years?”
After the attempted murder of his fiance, an aristocratic man (John Howard) and his sister (Heather Angel) receive an investigative visit at their old dark house from a Scotland Yard scientist (James Ellison) and his droll assistant (Heather Thatcher). Could a local doctor (Bramwell Fletcher) or the long-time house servants (Halliwell Hobbes and Eily Malyon) have anything to do with the mysterious attack?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Murder Mystery
- Old Dark House
Fox Studios’ first attempt to cash in on the horror film franchises started by Universal Studios and RKO was this interestingly shot but ultimately disappointing comedic murder mystery. With assistance from DP Lucian Ballard, director John Brahm — best known for helming The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945), both starring Laird Cregar — offers atmosphere in spades. It’s too bad the hour-plus narrative leans so heavily on poorly limned characters and unfunny humor (“This place is colder than a tax collector’s heart!”), culminating in a poorly handled surprise outcome. With that said, you’ll likely get a chuckle when the entire gang heads downstairs to see exactly what’s been lurking in the basement of this family’s eerie manse (who in the world has those kinds of things in their house?!). Watch for steely-faced character actress Eila Maylon, perfectly cast as a veteran housekeeper with potential secrets up her sleeve.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- John Brahm’s creative direction
- Effectively spooky sets
- Lucian Ballard’s highly atmospheric cinematography
No, though fans of such B-level flicks (or Brahm) will likely want to check it out.