HOUSE OF HORRORS (MURDER MANSION) (director: Jean Yarbrough; screenwriters: George Bricker/story by Dwight V. Babcock; cinematographer: Maury Gertsman; editor: Philip Cahn; cast: Martin Kosleck (Marcel De Lange), Rondo Hatton (The Creeper), Robert Lowery (Steven Morrow), Virginia Grey (Joan Medford), Bill Goodwin (Police Lt. Larry Brooks), Alan Napier (F. Holmes Harmon), Howard Freeman (Hal Ormiston), Joan Fulton (Stella McNally), Virginia Christie.(Lady of the Streets); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ben Pivar; Universal Pictures; 1946)

"Audiences loved this base crime drama, even if critics were a little queasy about so many corpses found with broken spines as the focal point of the entertainment."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This is director Jean Yarbrough's ("The Brute Man"/"The Devil Bat"/"She-Wolf of London") most memorable film, even if the plot is only standard its villain is not. It's the second of three Creeper films starring the disfigured by acromegaly giant Rondo Hatton, who is in his first starring role. This monster in this pic  required no make-up. The mad doctor genre film is based on a story by Dwight V. Babcock, and is written by George Bricker. It's set in NYC's Greenwich Village.

Demented avant garde sculptor Marcel De Lange (Martin Kosleck) gets depressed after hearing critics pan his work, and the broke artist contemplates suicide after losing a sale because of the poor review. He meets the Creeper (Rondo Hatton) while on the bridge to jump, and rescues the hulking man from his suicide attempt. Marcel's artistic urges compel him to use the disfigured Creeper as a model for a statue. That gives both depressed men the will to live again. But befriending the fiendish Creeper and showing him compassion, doesn't stop the habitual criminal from breaking the back of a prostitute.

Marcel confronts renown art critic F. Holmes Harmon (Alan Napier), his main nemesis, that his critique of him is unfair. When the Creeper learns of this, he helps his friend out in Creeper style by fatally strangling the critic.

Female art critic Joan Medford (Virginia Grey) visits Marcel's studio and sneaks a peek at the bust he is working on and immediately suspects the monster-looking  poser might be involved with the murder. Joan tries to get evidence against him so that her own bodyguard and lover, Steven Morrow (Robert Lowery), will be removed as the police's main suspect.

Homicide detective Lt. Larry Brooks (Bill Goodwin), leading the murder investigation, believes the murder resembles the method used by the Creeper and sets a trap through the use of another art critic, Howard Freeman (Hal Ormiston), who disses both Marcel and Steven Morrow in the newspaper. When the cops catch Morrow with his hands around Freeman's neck, they arrest him sure they got the murderer. But the Creeper remains hidden in the critic's apartment and later strangles Freeman in his kitchen, thereby removing Morrow as a prime suspect.

Audiences loved this base crime drama, even if critics were a little queasy about so many corpses found with broken spines as the focal point of the entertainment.

REVIEWED ON 8/15/2015       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"