“Well sure, you have a right to say you don’t like apple pie. But it’s certainly unfair to say that apple pie isn’t good.”
Marcel De Lange (Martin Kosleck) is an artist. And like many artists he is a little temperamental. OK he’s homicidal. You would be too if you had a customer that was going to buy one of your sculptures and the critic he brought with him panned your work, in front of you and your customer. The New York art critic for Manhattan magazine, F. Holmes Harmon (Alan Napier), called it tripe, as well as a barrage of other not so nice adjectives. For the struggling sculptor it was the last straw. Marcel chases the men from his studio and destroys the sculpture. He then wanders the dark, deserted streets.
Feeling suicidal he ends up down by the docks. There he finds a half drowned man. He pulls him from the water and turns him over to see his face. The face reminds Marcel of a Neanderthal. Immediately he is inspired. He brings the man home and cares for him. He asks if he will pose for him. The man with the Neanderthal face is actually a notorious serial killer known as ‘The Creeper” (Rondo Hatton). The Creeper is surprised at the kindness that Marcel bestows on him. He agrees to pose.
One night Marcel is reading the paper. It talks about the murder of a woman not far from them. He mentions it in passing. In casual conversation he asks, what could a woman do that would make someone snap her spine? The Creeper states “She screamed.” Marcel then mentions the reason they have no money is due to the art critic that ruined the sale of a sculpture that would have brought in a thousand dollars. It’s his fault that they have no money for food. At that The Creeper gets up and walks out into the night.
After that The Creeper takes care of anyone that crosses his friend.
“House of Horrors” was released in 1946 and was directed by Jean Yarbough. It is a film noir and a thriller. Don’t ya just hate critics? Marcel is a freaky little pip squeak. And a little unhinged. (He doesn’t deserve a cat.) Actually Marcel was just as creepy as the big guy. Actually he was creepier. The Creeper was doing what he does. He knows nothing else. Marcel, on the other hand, was devious, manipulative and had more in the way of violent tendencies. He just didn’t have the power or the strength to inflict pain on his enemies. He used The Creeper as a tool to do that.
Rondo Hatton was in 25 movies, most of them bit parts and uncredited. This was one of the few where he actually had a decent part. Rondo did three movies as a character named The Creeper. The first was the Sherlock Holmes movie “The Pearl of Death” in 1944. The other movie was “The Brute Man” which came out the same year as “House of Horrors”. Unfortunately Rondo died of a heart attack not long after making this movie. He suffered from a slow fatal disease called acromegaly. It affects the pituitary gland. Doctors believed that it was the result of exposure to poison gas in World War I.
I actually liked the movie. Yes, you pretty much knew what was coming. There are no secrets here. The plot was a set up for all kinds of spine snapping at the hands of The Creeper, but that was part of the fun. Plus it was only an hour or so long so it got down to the spine snapping rather quickly.