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Troy Guinn and I jump back to the 1940’s for our next Universal horror film of that decade. 

NIGHT MONSTER (1942) has two ‘horror stars’ first billed in the credits – Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill – leading first time viewers to expect them to feature heavily in the scary tale being told. But both actors are relegated to supporting roles which gives unexpected players the chance to step forward and take the position of possible villain. This sidelining of Lugosi and Atwill has been cited for years as the reason this is less well known than it might otherwise be, but I would argue the opposite should be true. By allowing actors not usually associated with the genre to step forward and take on the prime roles NIGHT MONSTER becomes a rare thing in Universal’s horror output on the 40’s – a real mystery! And, to make it more impressive, the film attempts to create an entirely new screen monster that the studio could have used in the future. That the choice was made to continue producing Frankenstein, Dracula and Mummy sequels probably speaks more to making safe money decisions than to a desire for new, creative monsters and that is a shame. 

We enthusiastically dive into this film asking all the usual questions horror movie fans have posited for decades. We don’t have all the answers but we do have some solid speculation and a few guesses. We remark on the casting choices including having a female doctor play such a prominent role. The treatment of Hindu mysticism in the story without the expected condescension for such ‘foreign’ religions is surprising, as is the relatively adult tone of the entire affair. The film strikes a more modern attitude in several ways even if it still seems to take place in a time oddly unaware of the then current war. We also note that the film seems to drop at least one character (Lugosi’s!) from the finale without ever letting us know if he was complicit in the crimes taking place in and around the crazy old dark house. The oddest point in the show might be when I conjure a fictious Three Dog Night song out of thin air leaving only a little blood on the floor! 

If you have any comments or questions about the show thebloodypit@gmail.com is the email account and we’d love to hear from you. Thank you for listening to the show! 

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