House of Mystery (DVD) (Unrated) (Black & White)
Based on Adam Hull Shirk's moth-eaten 1927 play The Ape, this comedy-mystery-thriller is one of those static, ham-fisted bump-in-the-night whodunits that made Monogram Pictures justly infamous. A group of investors gather at the secluded estate of paralyzed archeologist John Prendergast (Clay Clement), who 20 years previously had escaped a disastrous expedition to Hindustan with a great deal of loot and a somnambulist Hindi mistress-cum-housekeeper (Laya Joy aka Joyzelle).The dreaded Curse of Kali, however, followed Prendergast back to America and is apparently killing off the archeologist's greedy house guests one by one. Tom-Tom drums, incense-burning and shrieks in the night follow, of course, and so do the inevitable dumb police officers headed by Inspector ("I shall not let that ape make a monkey out of me!") Pickens (Irving Bacon). Emil Van Horn skulks about in his gorilla suit (in one scene, the simian has a hard time opening a couple of Monogram's French doors); Chanda, the Hindu woman glowers at ingenue Verna Hillie; Clement does an acceptable imitation of Lionel Atwill, and an American-accented janitor (John Sheehan) proves to be a Scotland Yard inspector in disguise. Nominal leading man Ed Lowry, as a brash insurance salesman, quickly returned to his natural habitat, radio. Shirk's play also served as the basis for Monogram's 1940 Boris Karloff thriller The Ape, although the plot of that film bore little resemblance to The House of Mystery. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi, Rovi
Cast & Crew
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