House of Horrors (1946)

65-66 mins | Horror | 29 March 1946

Director:

Jean Yarbrough

Writer:

George Bricker

Producer:

Ben Pivar

Cinematographer:

Maury Gertsman

Editor:

Philip Cahn

Production Designers:

John Goodman, Abraham Grossman

Production Company:

Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Murder Mansion. Murder Mansion was also the working title of a 1945 "Charlie Chan" release, The Jade Mask (See Entry). Although Rondo Hatton's onscreen credit reads "Introducing Rondo Hatton," House of Horrors was not Hatton's debut film. He previously had appeared in several films, including a 1944 Sherlock Holmes story, The Pearl of Death, in which he played a character named "The Hoxton Creeper" (See Entry). Hatton also portrayed "The Creeper" in a late 1946 Universal picture, The Brute Man (see entry entry). The story of The Brute Man takes place before the action of House of Horrors. Although House of Horrors was not Hatton's last picture, he died on 2 Feb 1946, three weeks prior to its New York opening. Modern sources note that Kent Taylor was first cast as "Lt. Larry Brooks," and that Billy Newell replaced Milburn Stone in the role of "Det. Tomlinson." Modern sources credit Robert Murdock as property master, John Brooks as gaffer, and Ed Cushing as Hatton's stand-in. ...

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The working title of this film was Murder Mansion. Murder Mansion was also the working title of a 1945 "Charlie Chan" release, The Jade Mask (See Entry). Although Rondo Hatton's onscreen credit reads "Introducing Rondo Hatton," House of Horrors was not Hatton's debut film. He previously had appeared in several films, including a 1944 Sherlock Holmes story, The Pearl of Death, in which he played a character named "The Hoxton Creeper" (See Entry). Hatton also portrayed "The Creeper" in a late 1946 Universal picture, The Brute Man (see entry entry). The story of The Brute Man takes place before the action of House of Horrors. Although House of Horrors was not Hatton's last picture, he died on 2 Feb 1946, three weeks prior to its New York opening. Modern sources note that Kent Taylor was first cast as "Lt. Larry Brooks," and that Billy Newell replaced Milburn Stone in the role of "Det. Tomlinson." Modern sources credit Robert Murdock as property master, John Brooks as gaffer, and Ed Cushing as Hatton's stand-in.

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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
9 Mar 1946
---
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1946
p. 3
Film Daily
17 May 1946
p. 5
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1945
p. 17
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1945
p. 9
Hollywood Reporter
4 Mar 1946
p. 3
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Feb 1946
p. 2850
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
9 Mar 1946
pp. 2881-82
New York Times
23 Feb 1946
p. 20
The Exhibitor
20 Mar 1946
p. 1902
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
John Martin
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
John B. Goodman
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
COSTUMES
Gowns
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
Dir of sd
[Sd] tech
Re-rec and eff mixer
MAKEUP
Jack P. Pierce
Makeup dir
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Murder Mansion
Release Date:
29 March 1946
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 Feb 1946
Production Date:
16681
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
21 March 1946
LP163
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
65-66
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
PCA No:
11251
SYNOPSIS

As impoverished Greenwich Village artist Marcel de Lange is about to sell one of his sculptures to a wealthy man named Samuels, vitriolic art critic F. Holmes Harmon denounces the piece as "tripe," scaring off Samuels. Despondent and broke, Marcel walks to a bridge, intent on suicide. When he notices a man struggling at the river's edge, however, he rushes to the rescue. Marcel drags the man from the water and, awestruck by his hulking, hideous appearance, takes him home. The next morning, the newly inspired Marcel asks his grateful guest if he will pose for a bust, and the surprised man agrees. Soon after Marcel begins work on the bust, the man slips out and brutally kills a prostitute. When the coroner reveals that the woman's spine was broken, homicide detective Lt. Larry Brooks comments that the murderer's methods resemble those of The Creeper, a notorious serial killer who escaped a dragnet by diving into the river and was presumed drowned. Later, Marcel reads a newspaper account of the woman's murder and, realizing that his guest is The Creeper, declares that Harmon deserves to die for the terrible things he has written about him. At Harmon's newspaper office, meanwhile, fellow art critic Joan Medford tries unsuccessfully to convince Harmon not to print a scathing review of her boyfriend Steven Morrow's new art show. As soon as Joan leaves Harmon's office, The Creeper appears and murders the critic. Aware that Steven had fought with Harmon, Larry questions him at his studio, but Joan provides Steven with a false alibi. Looking for a story, Joan then visits Marcel, but he refuses to show ...

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As impoverished Greenwich Village artist Marcel de Lange is about to sell one of his sculptures to a wealthy man named Samuels, vitriolic art critic F. Holmes Harmon denounces the piece as "tripe," scaring off Samuels. Despondent and broke, Marcel walks to a bridge, intent on suicide. When he notices a man struggling at the river's edge, however, he rushes to the rescue. Marcel drags the man from the water and, awestruck by his hulking, hideous appearance, takes him home. The next morning, the newly inspired Marcel asks his grateful guest if he will pose for a bust, and the surprised man agrees. Soon after Marcel begins work on the bust, the man slips out and brutally kills a prostitute. When the coroner reveals that the woman's spine was broken, homicide detective Lt. Larry Brooks comments that the murderer's methods resemble those of The Creeper, a notorious serial killer who escaped a dragnet by diving into the river and was presumed drowned. Later, Marcel reads a newspaper account of the woman's murder and, realizing that his guest is The Creeper, declares that Harmon deserves to die for the terrible things he has written about him. At Harmon's newspaper office, meanwhile, fellow art critic Joan Medford tries unsuccessfully to convince Harmon not to print a scathing review of her boyfriend Steven Morrow's new art show. As soon as Joan leaves Harmon's office, The Creeper appears and murders the critic. Aware that Steven had fought with Harmon, Larry questions him at his studio, but Joan provides Steven with a false alibi. Looking for a story, Joan then visits Marcel, but he refuses to show her his half-finished bust of The Creeper. While Marcel is in another room, however, Joan peeks at the bust, unaware that The Creeper is watching her from a hiding place. Later, Larry, who now knows that Joan lied about Steven's alibi, asks Harmon's rival critic, Hal Ormiston, to help bait Steven by writing a searing review of his show. When Steven reads the review, in which Ormiston snidely compares his work to Marcel's, he goes to confront Ormiston at his apartment. Steven rails against Ormiston and grabs him when he starts to call the police. At that moment, Larry bursts in the room and stops Steven. Larry believes he has caught the killer until, a few moments later, he discovers Ormiston dead in the kitchen, his spine broken. Unknown to Larry, The Creeper snuck into Ormiston's apartment and killed the critic because Marcel, having also read the review, was upset. With Ormiston's murder, the newspapers announce that The Creeper is alive and print a sketch of his distinctive face. Determined to get her story, Joan returns to Marcel's and steals his sketch of the bust, which he has signed. Then, not having seen the drawing of The Creeper in the newspaper, she instructs her printer to publish a copy of it. After completing her article, Joan telephones Steven and tells him that she is sneaking the original back to Marcel's. The Creeper, meanwhile, informs Marcel that he saw Joan take the sketch, and Marcel, worried that she now knows the identity of the bust's model, sends The Creeper to kill her at Steven's, where he believes she has gone. Instead, The Creeper murders Stella, one of Steven's models, who was alone in the studio. Joan, meanwhile, startles Marcel when she appears at his door and marvels at the now completed bust. Sure that she is feigning ignorance about the model's identity, Marcel informs her about The Creeper and tells her she is about to die. At the same time, Steven goes to Joan's office and discovers the printer's copy of Marcel's sketch on her desk. Back at Marcel's, The Creeper overhears the artist inform Joan that he will turn The Creeper over to the police if they should connect him to the killer. Enraged by the artist's easy betrayal, The Creeper kills Marcel, then goes after Joan. Just as The Creeper is about to grab Joan, Steven pounds at the door, and Larry, who also saw the sketch on Joan's desk, arrives in time to shoot the murderer. Later, a relieved Joan tells Steven that she is finally ready to quit her job and marry him.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.