SHERLOCK HOLMES IN THE HOUSE OF FEAR (1945)

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The House of Fear Cover At the end of my street there is a house full of malice, dread, mania, and fear. Well, that's what the people living inside called themselves, anyway. But if I was in their shoes, I'd name myself after the characters seen in this 69 minute movie made in 1945. It was directed by Roy William Neill; and Starred: Basil Rathbone, Nigel Bruce, with Aubrey Mather.


Sherlock Holmes - The House of Fear


THE STORY:
As you all well know, both Doctor Watson (Nigel Bruce) and myself have come to your Scottish Castle, today, to investigate the strange deaths surrounding the members belonging to your gentlemen's club, 'The Good Comrades'.

Now so far, this crime seems to be perpetrated in the following fashion. Firstly, at dinner your housekeeper delivers to the victim an envelope containing a number of orange pips, denoting the order of their demise. Then the intended victim perishes under very mysterious circumstances indeed. And finally, once the corpse has been identified, the rest of you cash in on their life insurance policy.

So with all of that in mind, what I'd also like to know is which one of you committed this heinous crime?  Could it have been you, Sir Alastair (Aubrey Mather)? As its fairly common knowledge you've had a run in with the law in the past! Or could it be you, Dr. Simon Merrivale (Paul Cavanagh)? Basing my deductions on your expert wisdom of all things medical! Or could it have been you, Captain Simpson (Harry Cording)? Despite two attempts being made on your life already!

Huh? What's that you say, gentlemen? Are you accusing me, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone), of jumping to conclusions too quickly? Well, that may be the case. But still. That's most probably why what next transpires all gets rather troublesome when Inspector Lestrade (Dennis Hoey) comes knocking at our door. As three more deaths occur - I don't take back my obvious slur - a deceased fisherman points us in the right direction - and at the end of the day, no one can outsmart my cleverly observed detection.


[ Sorry For The Low Quality ]


THE REVIEW:
Now apart from a couple of fairly obvious processed shots seen midway through 'The House of' Fear', all in all I'd say this amazing movie was very engrossing, enjoyable, and could do no wrong in my eyes.

The House of Fear Film Poster Starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce
Yeah. I'm not pulling your leg, old chap. The way I see it, this smashing Sherlock Holmes adventure lifted me out of my seat for four very different reasons. Firstly, I enjoyed how the murder mystery was set-up within the first ten minutes of this film, because it managed to relay the intended premise in a very straight forward and simple fashion. Secondly, it was a blast for me trying to figure out who actually did the deed, largely due to each of the 'colorful suspects' seemingly being innocent or guilty throughout numerous parts of the tale. Thirdly, as implied in my previous point, I found the actors involved bigger than life, with each of them staking their claim 'behavior wise' within their characterizations. And fourthly, with me being a right sucker for the whole God damn thing being conveyed under one roof, it did throw me a bit when Sherlock's investigation continued outside nearing the end of the movie.

Also, if I may back-track slightly, I've got to mention that I did love the way this flick defined the cast members in a very quaint and flavorsome manner. Well, not only were Holmes and Watson their calculated and bumbling selves. But in addition to this, every single one of the suspects had a tick or a nuance that kind of defined who they were and what they were all about.


The House of Fear Starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce


For instance, one of them appeared like a simple yet naive old man. Another one was plainly a surly character without any heirs or graces about him. Whilst another gave the impression of being dodgy yet smart at the very same time. Furthermore, the twist at the end of this film was a real treat I tell you. A real treat. Because even I couldn't figure out who the killer was, until...

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, Playing The Violin
No. Wait a minute. I don't want to spoil the surprise for you, my friends. Here. Please allow me to divert my mindset slightly by presenting you with the following filmic facts. (1) 'Universal' first released this production in Australia, on the very same week the Allied forces commenced their bombing raid on Dresden -- the 8th of February, 1945. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Castle Wonders' in Finland; 'A Killer Is on the Loose' in Sweden; and 'The Seeds of Death' in Portugal. (3) Just like most of the other Holmes movies shot for 'Universal', this one was also shot at 'Universal Studios', situated within the American state of California. (4) This film was limply based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1891 short-story, 'The Five Orange Pips', and was also the inspiration behind the third episode of the 'Sherlock' television series, sub-titled, 'The Great Game'. (5) Now in that scene were Sherlock Holmes spots the empty tobacco urn, you might like to know that the wolf's head cane seen leaning against Sir Alastair's chair, came from the 1941 Claude Rains horror-classic, 'The Wolf Man'. (6) The tag-line used to promote this picture, was, 'HORROR stalking-its halls!'. (7) When this flick was initially released in America, it shared a double bill with the Lon Chaney Junior horror-thriller, 'The Mummy's Curse'. (8) After this adventure poured itself its last cup of tea, Basil Rathbone starred in the next Sherlock Holmes mystery, 'The Woman in Green'; Nigel Bruce starred in the family drama, 'Son of Lassie'; and Aubrey Mather starred in the thriller, 'Temptation'.


The House of Fear Movie Poster


Overall I'd say 'The House of Fear' was one joyous murder mystery for one and all. The story was engaging on so many levels. The actors showed character and mirth at a drop of a hat. And as push comes to shove, this is what I'd call a must watch movie for any Sherlock Holmes fans out there. Trust me. It'll defiantly be your cup of Rosie Lee. Wink-Wink!

THE RATING: A