Insurance salesman Jack Haley (The Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz) goes to an eccentric millionaire’s house for the reading of his will on a dark and stormy night. The squabbling relatives are all bound to the house until the old coot is interred into the family vault, even after a murderer starts bumping off the family members in hopes of getting his hands on the inheritance. Bela Lugosi plays the creepy butler and his Glen or Glenda co-star Lyle Talbot is one of the bickering relatives.
Yep, it’s yet another one of those Old Dark House comedy/murder/mystery/whodunit deals. This premise had pretty much been thoroughly run into the ground by 1944, but if you’re a fan of the genre, you might groove to this otherwise creaky flick. If you’re a Lugosi fan like me, you’ll be able to suck up most of the rampant clichés (the relatives get stranded because the bridge gets washed out in the storm, the murderer uses secret passageways to get around the house, dead bodies end up in peculiar places, etc.) and tolerate the unfunny comic relief (Haley is particularly grating) and just enjoy his performance. He’s severely underutilized and his role is rather small, but to me, any movie he’s in is worth watching just to see Lugosi, especially when he says things like “There are too many rats in this house!” Otherwise, it’s pretty tough going.