The Human Monster (1939)

humanmonster02This was a hard one to watch — literally.  The print at Amazon is awful, often making it impossible to distinguish what is on the screen.

The English accents also made watching difficult.  On the plus side, the captioning was crisp and clear.

We start off with several nice shots of bodies tossed up against a pier, bobbing in the surf and a couple washing up on the shore.  A headline in The Insurance Monitor — “The Oldest Insurance Journal in the World” — says insurance circles are alarmed at the increase in drowning fatalities.  Since all these corpses seem to be fully dressed, that does seem strange.

Inspector Holt is assigned the case, and he is buddied up with O’Reilly, a Yank who has come to learn the British way of solving crimes.

humanmonster03Dr. Orloff (Bela Lugosi) is an insurance broker and known as a very generous man. While loaning Mr. Stuart £2,000, Lugosi generously offers to write him an insurance policy with himself as beneficiary.  He also suggests that Stuart pay a visit to the home for blind vagrants to learn the joy of charity.

Stuart does visit the home and is greeted by Lugosi who gives him the full tour which includes being killed by a giant deformed blind man and tossed in the Thames.

By helpful coincidence, his hot daughter Diana has returned from America that same day and able to identify the body.  Lugosi offers her a job as a secretary at the home for blind bums.

humanmonster09Diana goes directly to the home and gets the same tour as her father, except less murdery.  She uncovers evidence that Lugosi killed her father, leading to a twist of not quite Sixth Sense proportions.

This film was much darker than The Devil Bat and Scared to Death.  It is not without humor, but blind men, the deformed giant, the taking of a blind man’s hearing, and the callous disposal of bodies keep the film from veering off into farce.


  • Writer Edgar Wallace got a “Conceived by” credit on the original King Kong.  55 years after he died, he got a “Story by” credit on Revenge of the Living Dead Girls.
  • Released as The Dark Eyes of London, in England, this was the first film to receive the English “H” rating signifying it was too “horrific” for children under 16.  Or the last, depending which source you trust.
  • I had never heard the term Agony Column.

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