Written by William Jacobs & Beatrice Van
Story by Willard Mack
Directed by Ben Stoloff (Soup to Nuts, Destry Rides Again)
Plot: The crazed Maniac is on the loose and on a murder spree in the countryside. But is every body discovered really a victim of the Maniac? Add in an inheritance, a group of family and scientific colleagues and a secret formula, plus some more than mysterious servants, and you have a perfect old, dark house flick.
Personal Thoughts: All of the routine elements are present. You have the creepy house with hidden passages, a crazed killer lurking in the shadows, mystic servants, bumbling newsman, overbearing police detective, a goofy chauffeur and murder. Lugosi is great as servant Degar who always seems to be in the just the right place. As with most old, dark house films, you have more than one red herring and you are never quite sure what Degar is up to. The ending is unique, if not a little far-fetched. And apparently, nobody watched movies to know that a séance always ends in murder. This is one of Lugosi’s better performances but, sadly, is often overlooked due to its general unavailability. Do yourself a favor and track it down as its worth 65 minutes of your time on a dark and rainy night.
- One of 11 Columbia films licensed to Universal for the Son of Shock television package.
- Lugosi reportedly worked on his small role at night while filming International House (1933) during the day as he was already having financial issues.
- Despite Edwin Maxwell being credited as The Maniac, he doesn’t really appear in the role until the corny but amusing final scene.