“There’s a murderer in this house and I’m gonna find him.”
When American archaeologist John Prendergast (Clay Clement) plunders an ancient treasure from a temple and kills a sacred monkey an angry Hindu priest (Brandon Hurst) curses anyone connected to the expedition, past, present or future. With the help of a priestess, Chanda (Joyzelle Joyner), Prendergast escapes from the temple.
Twenty years later, two investors in the expedition, Prof. Horatio Potter (Harry C. Bradley), and his wife Mrs. Hyacinth Potter (Mary Foy), are convinced that a man named John Pren is really John Prendergast. They hire Attorney Jerome Ellis (Sam Godfrey), on behalf of the investors in the expedition, to look into claiming their portion of the gains from the expedition.
The attorney has a meeting and gathers the remaining investors and investor heirs in his office. Gathered are; Dylan "Jack" Armstrong (Ed Lowry), an insurance salesman. Geraldine Carfax (Dale Fuller), and her companion, Stella Walker (Fritzi Ridgeway), and David Fells (George ‘Gabby’ Hayes). Two other English investors have recently died. They were murdered. Their necks broken. Ellis explains that he contacted John Pren and he admits who he really is. He explained that he changed his name for personal reasons. He also says that he is willing to discuss a settlement with the investors and heirs under certain conditions. He schedules a meeting the next night at his mansion to explain.
The next night when everyone is gathered at the Pren Mansion John explains the curse of Kai-Li. In the house are Chanda, John’s nurse Ella Browning (Verna Hillie) and a plumber named Harry Smith (John Sheehan). John tells the group that if they want their portion of the treasure they need to stay in the house for a week. He says he want them to fully understand what they are getting into. Of course the first thing they do is have a séance. Then people start dropping.
Police Insp. Ned Pickens (Irving Bacon) arrives at the house intent on catching the killer. Instead he finds more mystery and more bodies.
“The House of Mystery” was released in 1934 and was directed by William Nigh. It is a mystery that was produced by the Monogram Studios. The movie is an ‘Old Dark House’ mystery and like a lot of them it is based on a play. If you are a fan of the genre this is a decent offering.
A lot of people think that all ‘Old Dark House’ mysteries are the same, and in a way they are. Most have similar mix of characters. There is usually a compelling reason for everyone to stay in the house even though there is mayhem around them. Whether it’s a storm outside or a share in a fortune there is a reason to stay. In the 30’s apes were a big thing in monster movies so of course this one has one too. Even if the basic plot is one that is used a lot, I still have an affinity for these types of mysteries. There are a few little twists in this story that I found added a little something to the standard genre.