Seven locks for seven suspects.
Lord Charles Francis Selford (Aubrey Mallalieu) is on his deathbed. He is giving his final instructions to his staff. He bids goodbye to his 11 year old heir, John. John has a paralyzed right arm. If anything happens to John the estate would then go to John’s cousin June. With witnesses present, including his physician Dr. Manetta (Leslie Banks), the family jewels are locked away in the family crypt with Selford’s body. The tomb requires seven separate keys to open it. The jewels were to go to John’s wife when he marries.
10 years later, a dying man named Silva (JH Roberts) sends one of the keys to the alternate heir June Lansdowne (Lilli Palmer). She visits the man in hospital. While trying to explain to her about the key and estate he is shot dead in front of her. She runs to the police, but when they get to the hospital there is no trace of the hospital or staff or Silva.
At the police station former detective, and potential love interest, Dick Martin (Romilly Lunge) is smitten with June. He volunteers to aid her in finding out what is happening. June had appeared at the station with her room mate Glenda Baker (Gina Malo). Martin takes June and Glenda home where they find a burglar. Martin tackles him but he gets away. Martin, Glenda, and June go to see Selford's lawyer, Edward Havelock (David Horne) and tell him about the key that June received. When Havelock goes to get the keys he discovers that they are missing.
June, Martin and Glenda, drive out to the Selford Estate. They are later joined by Inspector Sneed (Richard Bird) where they are greeted by Havelock. He introduces them to their host, Dr. Manetta (Leslie Banks). He is currently living at Selford. His hobby is collecting “instruments of torture”. Manetta shows off his hobby. A cottage full of Spanish Inquisition torture chamber items. He himself is descended from inquisitors. What comes next is a bunch of clues that Martin and Inspector Sneed need to unravel to determine who killed who and where are the keys, and what is the mystery all about?
“Chamber of Horrors” AKA “The Door with Seven Locks” was released in 1940. It was directed by Norman Lee and is a British release. The UK version runs 89 minutes and the US version is 79 minutes. The movie was based on the book “The Door with Seven Locks” by Edgar Wallace. I’m not sure why they changed the name of the movie for the American release, unless they thought it was catchier.
“Chamber of Horrors” is not really a horror movie. It’s a mystery. There may be a “Chamber of Horrors” but it’s incidental to the movie and is very misleading. This is your basic ‘Old Dark House’ type mystery. As a mystery it’s good and a decent example of the mystery genre. Plenty of suspense. Lots of clues. Good characters. Decent suspects. If you like mysteries, this is a fine example.