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The House of Fear

USA 1945
produced by
Roy William Neill for Universal
directed by Roy William Neill
starring Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, Aubrey Mather, Dennis Hoey, Paul Cavanagh, Holmes Herbert, Harry Cording, Sally Shepherd, Gavin Muir, Florette Hillier, David Clyde, Richard Alexander, Wilson Benge, Cyril Delevanti, Alec Craig, Leslie Denison, Doris Lloyd, David Thursby
screenplay by Roy Chanslor, based on the story The Adventure of the Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle, music by Paul Sawtell

Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), Universal's Sherlock Holmes

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The members of an exclusive club are killed off one by one in mutilating accidents, and since they have all policies with the same insurance company, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) is called in to investigate. He, his trusted friend Watson (Nigel Bruce) and inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) from Scotland Yard are soon invited to stay at the mansion the surviving clubmembers are staying at, as sort of bodyguards, but the members still seem to drop like flies. Worst of all, Holmes can't make heads or tails of it, there are too many suspects, too many contradicting clues, too few actual leads. The decisive turning point in his investigations comes though when a local tabacconist is killed, and Holmes later has Watson dig up his coffin to find it empty.

In the meantime, the whole club has shrunken down to one member, Alastaire (Aubrey Mather), whom Lestrade quickly arrests as the killer, claiming he wanted to collect the insurance money on all his deceased friends. Makes perfect sense, but Holmes begs to differ, finds a secret passageway in the mansion the club was meeting, and finds all the deceased members of the club very much alive. Turns out they, who were all more worth dead than alive, were conducting a big time insurance scam by faking their own deaths by using fresh bodies from the local graveyard, and they were using Alastaire as their scapegoat. However, a few too many mistakes (like using the taboccanist's body in one of their "deaths") brought Holmes onto their track, and now he sees that justice is served.

 

Ok Sherlock Holmes-mystery that tells quite an interesting (if not entirely believable) story ... but makes the mistake of giving away its game way too soon (about 10 minutes into the film) when (of all people) Watson asks how the identity of a horribly burnt body could be determined quite so quickly. Still, the whole thing is well played and is better paced than quite a few of Rathbone's other Sherlock Holmes-movies to avoid becoming plainly boring.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD