Story: Marcel De Lange (Martin Kosleck) is passionate about his artistic process, but his sculptures have only met with derision and dismissal from the local art critics. His mental state is pushed over the brink when his latest creation is waved off as tripe and in a moment of impulse, De Lange decides to end his own life. While at a river to drown himself however, he discovers an injured man and as it turns out, the battered soul is The Creeper, a wanted murderer. As he helps The Creeper recover, De Lange sparks up a friendship with the madman, hoping to turn his sadistic nature against the critics that have scorned his work. But will his new friend help him find vengeance or simply more rejection?
Entertainment Value: House of Horrors has some of the classic Universal horror elements in place, but not nearly enough and winds up as one of the studio’s more forgettable genre efforts.I nearly busted a nut. The premise is fine and shows some potential, but the movie is unable to put the concept to good use, thanks to lackuster writing and generic direction. I still like the character of The Creeper and Rondo Hattan’s performance is a highlight, but he can be seen in similar roles in better pictures. I do think the filmmakers tried to sprinkle some of the classic Universal touches, which is nice, though it fails to connect. I wish the film had more effective atmosphere and creative visuals to draw on, as those elements could have helped elevate the otherwise mediocre material. I suppose in the end, House of Horrors feels like a lot of missed opportunities, as there is a solid movie in here somewhere, it just never surfaces. But if you’re an old school Universal horror addict, you’ll still likely want to give it a chance.
The cast in House of Horrors has some good talent involved, but the writing doesn’t allow anyone to make full use of their skills. Rondo Hatton is the most memorable of the ensemble, thanks to his unique look and chances to do wild stuff for the cameras. Too bad the movie didn’t bank more on Hatton’s character and increase his screen time, as perhaps then the film would have at least been less dull. Alan Napier and Virginia Grey are here as well, in more grounded, but well performed roles. This is again where I wish the script had more to offer, as both have immense talent that is mostly wasted here. I do think Napier and Grey do what they can to make the material better than it is, but they can only do so much. The cast also includes Bill Goodwin, Robert Lowery, Howard Freeman, and Martin Kosleck.
The Disc: The movie is watchable in this high definition release, but looks fairly weak and never impresses. The print seems to be solid, but the transfer applies too much digital manipulation and we are left with an unnatural, overprocessed presentation. I found detail to be passable at best and fine touches are often washed out, so overall this proves to be a lackluster, regrettable treatment. The extras include a featurette on star Rondo Hattan and an audio commentary track, so at least a couple bonuses help add some value here.