Directed by Erle C. Kenton [Other horror films: Island of Lost Souls (1932), The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), House of Frankenstein (1944), House of Dracula (1945)]
I’ve long thought that the 1940’s was one of the weakest decades for the horror genre, and this movie is a good example of why. The Cat Creeps isn’t a poor movie, though – like most dark house mystery movies, it’s enjoyable enough. The problem, though, is that this could have been made ten years earlier, and nothing would have seemed out of place.
Obviously, I enjoy the old dark house movies, giving quite solid ratings in the past to such films as The Monster Walks, The Cat and the Canary, and The Bat Whispers, and I enjoyed this well enough also, but I can’t say that it’s not overly derivative. It most certainly is, and it doesn’t have that much going for it that really sets it apart from the better films that came out years and years previously.
Casting-wise, I don’t really have any complaints. Maybe Frederick Brady was a bit weak as the star, and maybe Lois Collier was far more underused than she could have been, but for a quick murder-mystery (this film comes in at under an hour), I thought most here were fine. Rose Hobart (1931’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) was nice to see, and both Paul Kelly and Douglass Dumbrille were both solid threatening individuals.
For what this movie was, and as little as it was made for, I did enjoy the setting, being a large house on a secluded island. It’s nothing new to this subgenre of horror, but fun nonetheless. Related, while there’s not many outstanding or memorable scenes here whatsoever, I did enjoy the utilization of mysterious shadows baring down on people. It happened a few times, and it looked decently effective.
Also worth mentioning is Vera Lewis’ character, who has a bit of a twist to her. It was pretty easy to see her role in the whole mystery, but I did like the addition, and at times, even led me to wonder if Brady’s character wasn’t somehow involved in the multiple murders.
All-in-all, though, The Cat Creeps is competently made and little more. There’s occasionally some fun dialogue, and of course the mystery is fun, but it’s not a movie that I imagine will really stand out in my memory, and given that I’ve seen this once before but remembered next-to-nothing about it, that may be the most accurate statement about this one. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not memorable either.