Thanks to a helpful tip from the Universal Horror Films Facebook group, I was able to order a copy of this largely forgotten horror film on sumogorilla.com. It is one of those old horror films that has never been given the restoration treatment it deserves. The copy I have varies in picture quality but the sound is good.
Night of Terror is billed as “starring” Bela Lugosi. However, he actually has a minor role in the film as one of two domestic servants of some unknown ethnicity. [The turban Lugosi wears is hysterical.] Bela’s performance is fine but it’s hardly the one of the iconic roles he played in films such as Dracula (1931) and Son of Frankenstein (1939). He actually worked on this film at night while working on another, International House, during the day. Yet, in spite of this, his piercing eyes are on high beam throughout the film!
Night of Terror doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. At it’s core it’s a murder mystery, but it also has elements of “old, dark house,” maniacal killer, and mad scientist films. It’s pretty much a mix of all four and would be a better movie if it stuck with one of them. The acting for the most part is fine but nothing special. The only groan-worthy moments are from the films only African American actor Oscar Smith [uncredited] who plays Martin the Chauffeur. His acting is typical of 1930’a films but it doesn’t work for modern audiences at all. It’s very racist that the white studio machine through all blacks needed to talk and act like this.
It’s clear Night of Terror was made with a limited budget but it makes good use of what it has to work with. My favorite scene has got to be the last one where the homicidal maniac addresses the audience and warns them not to reveal the ending of the movie to those who haven’t seen it. He promises to hunt them down if they do so. I love it!
This film is definitely for Lugosi fans as well as those who like the old dark house movies of the 1930’s. Otherwise it has limited appear which might explain why it has never been properly restored.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.