Directed by Benjamin Stoloff [Other horror films: The Hidden Hand (1942), The Mysterious Doctor (1943)]
Through not quite the horror classic you might think of when considering 30’s horror, Night of Terror is a fun little movie that’s entirely a product of it’s time, and like many of the films around this time period, I enjoy it quite a bit.
With secret passages, suspicious servants, and wills, this film has a lot of what you’d expect from dark house murder mysteries, the best of which include The Cat and the Canary, The Bat Whispers, and The Monster Walks. This one is obviously not as good as those attempts, but there’s still fun to be had if you’re a fan of this type of horror.
Amusingly, Bela Lugosi has a largish role as a servant named Degar, and of course I enjoyed his overly serious demeanor. Most of the main cast was just as fine, including Wallace Ford (The Rogues’ Tavern and The Mummy’s Hand), Sally Blane, George Meeker, Tully Marshall, and Edwin Maxwell (Mystery of the Wax Museum and The Ninth Guest). For comedic relief, we had Oscar Smith, who portrayed a cowardly chauffeur – unfortunately, not an uncommon role for black actors back in those days.
The story isn’t special in any way, but it was decently fun, what with people holed up in a house while a killer with quite a large body count (prior to the story proper, he’s apparently killed 12 people) prowls around, and what’s even better, maybe there are multiple killers, and some of the deaths have to do with a recently-read will.
This is all typical stuff for the time period, including the amusing conclusion, in which a character rises from the dead to warn the audience against spoiling the finale. In fact, I was so moved, I’ll quote the fella himself verbatim:
“Take heed, I am talking to you, and you, and you. If you dare tell anyone how this picture ends, if you dare reveal who the murderer really is, I’ll climb into your bedroom window tonight and tear you limb from limb.”
These were always charming whenever they popped up (most immediate example that comes to mind is The Bat Whispers), and this is no different.
I don’t think many people would call Night of Terror a terrific film, but it does check many of the boxes I look for from these types of films. It’s a very competent movie, and does have a nice little twist (which I think most modern-day audiences would see coming, but even so), and having seen it twice, it holds up nicely.