“When stars are bright on a frosty night, beware thy bane on the rocky lane.”
The Hammond curse goes back to where one member of the family, during the Crusades, purportedly sold his soul to the devil. He is reported to live in a secret room in the mansion. Since then he must make periodic offerings to the devil, of a member of the family. Family members either die or commit suicide after supposedly seeing the monster. The remaining Hammond family members are Oliver Hammond (John Howard) and his sister Helga (Heather Angel).
Oliver and his nurse are attacked by an unknown creature. Oliver recovers, but the nurse is in a coma. Scotland Yard investigates. They send Robert Curtis (James Ellison), a Scotland Yard scientist and Christy (Heather Thatcher) his assistant, to investigate. Curtis and Christy travel to the Hammond estate to interview the Hammonds, their staff and Oliver’s physician and family friend Dr. Jeff Colbert (Bramwell Fletcher).
Spooky things are going on at the Hammond estate. You need to expect weird things when you’ve got a crypt in your house, including slamming doors, dogs howling, wind blowing and chains rattling. Even unusual demon dog sculptures, foot prints in the dust and a room that was supposedly locked for years.
While Curtis and Christy are conducting their investigation the nurse dies, supposedly from her wounds. The jury for the coroner’s inquest determines that Kate O’Malley died of injuries sustained by an attack by person or persons unknown or by a large savage animal species unknown.
The Hammond family is steeped in secrets, and tragedy. Now there is also murder. Curtis and his spunky side kick Christy have their hands full, but no one is talking.
“The Undying Monster” was released in 1942 and was directed by John Brahm. When Universal’s monster movies “Frankenstein”, “Dracula” and such, began bringing in horror fans, 20th Century Fox decided to jump on the cash band wagon. Granted it’s not of the same caliber as the first tier Universal monster movies, but it is quite entertaining all by itself.
The setting is gothic, dark and eerie, both the inside views of the mansion, and the outside views of the rocky coastline with its dead trees and foggy rock outcroppings. The atmosphere is a character of the movie. If there are slow spots to the movie they are made up for by the visuals. It is a werewolf movie, but don’t expect a lot of werewolf. In fact a lot of the movie is the question of is there really a werewolf or is there some other reason for what is going on.
If you like the Universal horror movies, especially the fog shrouded mystery and the gothic cathedral rooms, than this is a good way to get a little piece of that nostalgia. It’s actually well made.