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Paralyzed Kurt Ingston (Ralph Morgan) invites the three doctors who
have botched up his operation (Lionel Atwill, Frank Reicher, Francis
Pierlot) to his mansion somewhere in the middle of nowhere, where they are
to attend a demonstration of hindu scientist Agor Singh (Nils Asther) in
which he creates a skeleton out of thin air using nothing but willpower.
When Singh breaks concentration though, the skeleton disappears, only a
puddle of blood is left behind. Soon, the three doctors are mudered,
strangled, yet still a puddle of blood is found besides each of them ...
constable Beggs (Robert Homans) is investigating the case, but he doesn't
even know where to start - and honestly, can you blame him. He receives
assistance from mystery writer Dick Baldwin (Don Porter) and from
Ingston's thought-to-be-insane sister's (Fay Helm) psychiatrist Lynn
Harper (Irene Hervey), but even though they come up with revelation after
revelation, there's nothing to stick the murders on anyone, and there's a
house full of suspects, too (among them Bela Lugosi as creepy butler, Leif
Erickson as chauffeur with a raping habit and Doris Lloyd as housekeeper
in love with her crippled employer). Eventually, Baldwin figures the
killer just has to be Ingston himself, and he accuses him of only faking
his paralysis. Ingston admits to not being paralyzed, but reveals he
actually is an amputee - and that's something you just cannot fake ...
much to and fro, Ingston's sister is driven over the edge to such an
extent that she burns her brother's mansion down, while Baldwin and Lynn,
escaping the fire, are attacked by ... Ingston, walking after all, and not
only that, walking on monster feet. He almost kills Baldwin, when he is
shot dead by Agor Singh. Turns out Agor Singh has taught Ingston to use
his willpower to improve his pitiful condition, but has too late
discovered that Ingston was using it for evil - like having his revenge on
the three doctors. When Ingston is dead, his monster legs, attached to him
only by willpower, disappear ...
I freely admit, my synopsis
sounds silly as hell, and under closer observation, the move indeed does
make only very limited sense - but somehow it works still, basically
because despite gaping plotholes and leaps of reason, it's still
well-structured, it's smoothly directed putting about equal emphasis on
pacing and atmosphere, and it features a decent cast playing believable
Now all of this doesn't make Night Monster a genre
classic, far from it actually, but certainly one of the better horror
released in the 1940's.