Crimes at the Dark House (1940)

Article #1539 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-1-2005
Posting Date: 10-29-2005
Directed by George King
Featuring Tod Slaughter, Sylvia Marriott, Hilary Eaves

A con artist murders a prospector and takes over his identity under the belief that he will be heir to a fortune. Unfortunately, he discovers that he was actually the heir to a whopping debt, and must engage in further murder and mayhem to recoup his losses.

You know, you really have to hand it to Tod Slaughter. It takes a special talent to walk that tightrope in which he managed to be so gleefully villainous without actually falling into complete parody, and when you’re given lines like “I’ll feed your entrails to the pigs!”, you’re going to need that sense of balance. Though I still prefer the perverse CRIMES OF STEPHEN HAWKE, there is no doubt that this movie is one of Tod Slaughter’s finest hours, and it may even be a better introduction to his style for those unfamiliar with his work. Slaughter is just hypnotic; you always know what’s running through his mind even when he hasn’t said a thing, and he has a way of loading his every gesture with meaning. It’s also packed full of great lines; outside of the entrails line quoted above, check out his teetotaler line towards the end of the movie. It’s only marginally horror, but some of the murders are quite grotesque, and the theme of madness rears its head as well.

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