“At the sanitarium we call him case two twenty-two. I guess you’d call him a homicidal maniac.”
Apparently it was a dark and stormy night. When their car skids off the road and gets stuck in the mud, playwright Prescott Ames (John Miljan) along with theatrical producer Herman Wood (Richard Carle), and Wood’s secretary Homer Erskine (Johnny Arthur), end up taking refuge at the home of Dr. Kent (Henry Kolker). Ames and Dr. Kent are neighbors and friends.
One of Kent's patients, Beatrice, is in a fragile state. This is the anniversary of her husband’s death and he died in the house they are all in now. Her strange behavior quickly unnerves both Wood and his secretary Erskine.
Dr. Kent’s other guests are Gloria Shaw (June Collyer) and Beatrice’s brother Terry Gray (Donald Kirke). Wood and Erskine are anxious to get out of the spooky house, but, due to the torrential rain washing out the roads, they are stuck there for the night.
They are all ready to sit down to dinner when accusations start concerning Beatrice’s husband. Beatrice’s husband was murdered and the killer was never apprehended. Everyone starts pointing at everyone else and accusing them of having a motive to off the poor man. Suddenly the lights go out. When they come back on Beatrice is gone.
Wood and Erskine come out from underneath the table and fly upstairs determined to get out of the house as quickly as possible. They mistakenly go into Prescott’s room and see his manuscript on a table. Wood reads some of it and figures out that what they have been experiencing that night was in fact Prescott’s play being performed by Prescott and whoever he hired. They decide to play along for awhile.
Meanwhile downstairs the actors are congratulating themselves for a wonderful performance. As of yet Beatrice has not joined them. When Prescott opens a door to go look for her, Beatrice’s dead body falls to the floor. They put her on a couch and go to inform Woods and Erskine of their ruse and about Beatrice. Just then a knock at the door proves to be a guard from a nearby sanitarium telling them that a homicidal maniac has escaped. Everyone is concerned except Wood and Erskine who believe the play is still going on.
“The Ghost Walks” was released in 1934 and was directed by Frank R. Strayer. It is a poverty row film. This “Old Dark House” mystery was quite entertaining. Full of the usual tropes that make these movies so much fun. Thunderstorms, hidden passageways, sliding panels, and the usual haunted house accoutrements.
Much ado has been made of Homer’s obvious homosexuality. Since this is at the height of the Hayes Code his homosexuality is done as subtly as possible. Johnny Arthur played quite a few homosexuals in films.
The dialogue was quite humorous and quick. The acting was well done. The pace was also good. The filmed moved along nicely with twist or two.
It was a charming little haunted house film.