The teaming of legend Lon Chaney and director Roland West sadly ends up being a very disappointing entry in the "old dark house" genre, which was still quite new at the time this was released. In the film, Chaney plays a mad scientist trying to figure out the secrets of life in an abandoned asylum. Wannabe detective (Johnny Arthur) winds up at the asylum with the woman (Gertrude Olmstead) he loves and the two try to destroy the scientist and his evil ways. THE MONSTER is a major disappointment that doesn't appear to know what type of film it wants to be. Considering Chaney is given top-billing you'd think that the director and studio would want a horror film or at least some sort of dark mystery but they only partially give us that. For some reason the film contains a lot of comedy relief that really sinks everything. The film starts off with the wannabe detective, a store clerk in reality, constantly being pushed around and of course he plans to show them all one day. We get another guy thrown into the mix because he appears to be more "manly" and of course these two both want the same woman. This silly love story never comes full circle and it really just adds minutes to the running time and the film certainly didn't need that. There's full comedy scattered throughout the film and it's a bit of a mystery why they bothered. I mean, you do have the Man of a Thousand Faces and you do have him playing the role of a mad scientist so did they really think people wanted to see this type of comedy? Even stranger is that Chaney gets top-billing yet he doesn't appear until the mid-way point and sadly both Arthur and Olmstead aren't strong enough to carry the material. Once Chaney does get on screen he delivers another fine performance and while there's not any real make-up, I did enjoy that head full of white hair. Chaney was always good at playing mad and he does a good job here but it's a shame he's wasted. West's direction is pretty much all over the place and it's clear that he couldn't do comedy. The "old dark house" stuff is a tad bit better but it's still far from what he did with THE BAT.
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