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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Creeping Horror


Starring: Charlie Ruggles, Bela Lugosi, Dick Foran and Rondo Hatton
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £31.99


Certificate: 12
Release Date: 17 April 2023

Eureka Entertainment releases, for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK, Creeping Horror – incorporating the four tales of terror: Murders in the Zoo, Night Monster, Horror Island, and House of Horrors. They star such luminaries of the time as Lionel Atwill, Bela ‘Dracula’ Lugosi, and Rondo Hatton. This Eureka Classics set has a Limited Edition Slipcase and a Collector’s Booklet featuring new writing by Craig Ian Mann and Jon Towlson. The discs are rendered in 1080p high definition and include the additional features of a brand new commentary on Night Monsters and House of Horrors, with author Stephen Jones and entertaining author/critic Kim Newman; a brand new commentary on Murders in the Zoo and Horror Island, with Kevin Lyones and film historian Jonathan Rigby; stills galleries; and a trailer for two of the films.

In Murders in the Zoo (1933) – directed by A. Edward Sutherland, Doctor Gorman (Atwill) is a millionaire hunter of dangerous animals who is bringing them back to the US in order to open an exotic new zoo. His neglected beautiful young wife entertains other men to alleviate the boredom so, when a fundraising gala is announced to promote the zoo, Gorman seizes the opportunity to use the animals to kill his rivals. A reptile expert sees through the man’s scheme to use the poison from a deadly mamba, but can he survive when Gorman’s attention turns to him? Randolph Scott’s character is somewhat naïve for a scientist, and Atwill reveals his guilt to the police by running away, but the film proves to be an enjoyable romp.

In Night Monster (1942) – directed by Ford Beebe, Kurt Ingston is a rich recluse living in a run-down mansion in the swamps. He invites the doctors who had previously saved his life but left him crippled and, one by one, they are killed by a mysterious creature which doesn’t stick around to be seen. Also present is a creepy mystic, a former friend of Ingson and another doctor unlucky enough to break down in her car near the house. You would have to be two pork pies short of a picnic not to realise who the killer is. It’s a nice run-around though, and the scenes wherein the frogs suddenly stop croaking prior to a door opening in the mansion’s grounds when the creature is near are suitably creepy. The rubber monster feet seen at the climax of the film is one reveal too far, however!

In Horror Island (1941) – directed by George Waggner, a down-on-his-luck local businessman learns that he now owns Sir Henry Morgan’s Island and the supposedly haunted castle. When he is offered $20,000 for the castle, he instead sets-up a boat trip for paying customers to visit the ‘haunted castle’ to enable him to check out the location himself. When there is the rumour of hidden pirate treasure it becomes apparent the other paying customers aren’t there by chance. I liked this one a lot; in some respects, it’s a variation on The Old Dark House scenario, with a little early Raiders of the Lost Ark thrown in. The film is based on ‘Terror of the South Seas’ by Alex Gottlieb.

In House of Horrors (1946) – directed by Jean Yarbrough, an under-appreciated sculptor misses out on a lucrative sale when the buyer shows up with a cruel and sadistic critic. Soon after, the sculptor saves a man from drowning, who turns out to be a notorious monstrous and disfigured criminal. It doesn’t take the cheated sculptor long to use the criminal to kills the critics who denounced him. You kind of feel sorry for the sculptor – and the criminal, to a certain extent, because the film is set from their point of view. It’s the pushy, scheming journalist that you half-wish gets her just desserts.

I love these old horror/thriller film collections from Universal and others. Long may they continue. Other sets which are available include the Boris Karloff collections, and the Inner Sanctum Mysteries.


Ty Power

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