Another classic horror movie to start the day. The one thing about these box sets from Mill Creek that is neat is that on the back of the box, it lists either the star or the director, as a means of getting your attention. Regarding today’s movie, I have never heard of the movie’s star, Tod Slaughter. However, it is a name I will have to get used to as he is in several movies in this set. So let’s see what he has to offer in today’s movie, Crimes At The Dark House.
The plot: A man (Percival Glyde) is camping out in a field and as he is sleeping in his tent, another man enters the tent and kills the sleeping man and robs him, finding a letter about an inheritance in the process. At a house in Blackwater Park, London, the house staff are getting ready for the new master when the butler announces that a carriage is arriving. The butler and the housekeeper, Mrs. Bullen, head out to welcome Sir Percival Glyde and after he greets them, he asks Mrs. Bullen if she, or any of the other staff, remember him as a boy and she answers no. They head inside to meet the rest of the staff and Percival becomes infatuated with one of the women and asks that she be made his chambermaid. Mrs. Bullen then tells Percival that Mr. Merriman, the lawyer, is waiting for him and when he hears that the lawyer did know him as a boy, Percival wants to put it off but reluctantly agrees to meet him. Entering the library, Percival speaks with Merriman and learns that his “father” has left him a large debt to pay off. Percival grows upset over the situation but is calmed down when he hears that he was arraigned to marry an heiress named Laurie Fairlie, and he quickly decides to go and meet her. At the Fairlie house, Laurie is told by her sick uncle that Percival wishes to meet her but she is unhappy with the arraigned marriage as she is in love with another man, Paul Hartwright. Back at the Glyde Estate, Percival is making plans to meet with Jessica, the maid he is infatuated with, when Mrs. Bullen tells him he has visitors in the library. He heads there and meets Dr. Isidor Fosco and Mrs. Catherick, who claims that Percival was the father of her daughter Anne. Percival says he never met the woman and she agrees, saying that Percival is not Sir Percival Glyde which confuses Bosco. Percival kicks the two out of his house but when Bosco goes back to retrieve his cane, Percival speaks with him and works out a plan to deal with Catherick and her daughter involving placing the daughter in the public asylum. As they are leaving, Catherick is upset over the situation. Percival heads to the Fairlie house and meets with Laurie and grows more excited over the prospect of marrying her. When he returns home, he finds Bosco waiting for him, who tells Percival that Anne has escaped from the asylum that he placed her in and warns that she might show up there. Percival grows upset and allows Bosco to stay the night in case she does show up, then meets with Jessica in the library. Jessica is upset about the news that Percival is to be married but Percival assures her that he will take care of her and the two kiss but Jessica sees a woman in white watching them. Jessica screams and tells Percival, who throws something at the window and breaks it. Jessica leaves the room, running into Bosco, who enters the library and Percival tells him about the woman in white, which they believe to be Anne. A short while later, Paul spies a woman placing a note on the church bulletin board stating that Percival is marrying Laurie for her money and he grabs the note goes to see Percival. Reaching the house, he questions Percival about the note and warns him not to bring any harm to Laurie but Percival kicks him out. Bosco overhears the conversation and Percival says they have to stop Anne before she ruins his plans. Later that night, Percival meets with Jessica at an old boathouse near a lake and Percival kills her. The next day, Percival and Laurie are married and head back to the Glyde Estate, with Laurie’s sister Marion joining them to stay. That night, Percival gets drunk and tries to get Laurie and Marion to drink with him but they refuse and choose to head to bed. Percival has another drink and sees the woman in white at his window again but when he heads outside, she isn’t there. The next day, Percival attempts to get Laurie to sign over her wealth to him but Marion convinces her not to sign. Bosco tells Percival there is still no sign of Anne so Percival tells him to have Mrs. Catherick meet him at the boathouse that night. When Mrs. Catherick arrives, Percival kills her and dumps her body in the lake. The next day, Bosco comments about this and blackmails Percival into paying him more money in order to keep quiet. That night, they wait by Catherick’s grave and see Anne, who is the woman in white, fall onto the grave weeping. They quickly capture her and, seeing her resemblance to Laurie, place Anne in a bed and render Laurie unconscious, allowing Bosco to have her taken to the asylum in Anne’s place. Anne dies from illness and at her funeral, Paul, thinking Laurie is the one who died, swears to bring Percival to justice for her death. Marion mentions that the women in white was recaptured and Paul, in disguise, heads over there and meets with Anne. When he realizes that it is Laurie, he knocks out the guards and frees her. At the Glyde estate, Percival refuses to pay Bosco the money promised and Bosco threatens to make public that Percival is a murderer and a fraud, as the real Percival married Mrs. Catherick 20 years ago. Marion overhears them and threatens to expose Percival as well but Percival renders Bosco unconscious and grabs Marion and takes her upstairs to kill her. Paul and Laurie show up and Paul begins fighting with Percival but Percival shoots him in the arm and escapes out the window. Percival heads to the church and finds Bosco there looking through the parish records for the marriage certificate. Percival pistol whips Bosco, then ties a noose around his neck and hangs him from the bell tower. As Paul, Laurie, and Marion head to the church, Percival sets fire to the records but the flames end up trapping him in the room and he dies while Paul and the others watch.
This was an interesting movie. The acting was ok, with Tod Slaughter doing a great job in being the boisterous loudmouth and the scheming psychopathic villain. The story was a little confusing at the beginning but did get better once some of the sub-plots were dealt with. There were not really any special effects outside of the fire at the end of the movie but that was pretty good. The big problem I had was the film quality, though I don’t know if that was the original film or the copy that is in the set. All in all, this is a short, fun movie that is worth a watch.
Rating: 3 out of 5