Monster of Terror (1965) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • A young man visits his fiancée's estate to discover that her wheelchair-bound scientist father has discovered a meteorite that emits mutating radiation rays that have turned the plants in his greenhouse to giants. When his own wife falls victim to this mysterious power, the old man takes it upon himself to destroy the glowing object with disastrous results.

  • Stephen Reinhart travels to a remote English village to visit his girlfriend Susan Whitley. From the moment he arrives in the village, it's clear that no one will speak of the Whitleys or even give him directions to the Whitley estate. Susan is happy to see him when he finally makes it there but her father Nahum tells him he must leave immediately. Susan and her bedridden mother Letitia are happy to have him stay but it's clear that Nahum Whitley has a secret, one that Susan isn't aware of, but is kept in the cellar of the house.

  • The American Stephen Reinhart arrives by train in Arkham, a small town in the countryside of England. He tries to travel to the real estate of a man called Witley by taxi or bicycle, but the locals are frightened by the name and refuse to help him. Stephen has to walk to the property and he is badly received by Nahum Witley, who is on the wheelchair. Stephen informs that he had been invited by his fiancée, Susan Witley, who welcomes him when she sees Stephen. The young man is summoned by Susan's mother, Letitia Witley, who is very ill, to have a private conversation with her, and she asks Stephen to leave the real estate as soon as possible with Susan. Further he learns that the maid Helga has disappeared and the butler Merwyn is also very ill. Stephen notes that there are weird things happening in the house, with a woman in black wandering in the garden and screams during the night. He snoops around and finds the Nahum is using the radiation of a meteorite in the greenhouse to turn the wasteland into a place of beauty with giant plants. However the side effect of the radiation has killed Merwyn and affected the health and turned Helga and Letitia into monsters. Now Nahum wants to destroy the stone with tragic consequences.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.



    Stephen Reinhart (Nick Adams) arrives by train in the small town of Arkham. When he tries to get a cab ride, the cabbie refuses to take him to the Witley place. He goes over to a local storefront and asks for the Witley place. A man and woman refuse to help and leave, giving him odd looks. The woman stops and informs a group of old men that he is coming and leaves. When Stephen asks about renting a car, he is told that he might be able to rent a bicycle. When he tells them he is going to the Witley place, they laugh and repeat what he says. No one will tell him why the subject is taboo.

    At the bicycle shop the proprietor refuses to rent anything when he finds Stephen is going to the Witleys. He is advised to walk there.

    Going along dirt roads, Stephen passes a barren wasteland with a tar pit. All the trees in the area look burnt to a crisp. He pinches off part of a small branch and notices it is completely burned up.

    Arriving at the Witley gate, he finds it padlocked with signs saying TRESPASSING FORBIDDEN. Looking for a way in, he finds a large trap set. Using his briefcase to spring the trap, he steps over it and into the Witley property. The entire area is smoky and hazy, with an eerie quality. As he approaches the huge house, a dark figure cloaked in black watches.

    He knocks upon the door, getting no response. He knocks again and the double doors open on their own. He enters and looks around. His footsteps echo on the stone floors. He calls Hello a couple of times to no response. Suddenly a large grandfather clock chimes. The clock shows 4:15.

    He turns and sees Nahum Witley (Boris Karloff) staring at him from a wheelchair. Stephen apologizes and tells Witley that he took the liberty of coming in when there was no response. Witley questions what business a stranger has coming in unannounced and uninvited. Stephen produces a folded letter which he gives to Witley, explaining that he has been invited by Mrs. Witley. Merwyn the butler (Terence de Marney) watches. Witley remarks how his daughter Susan (Suzan Farmer) has mentioned his name. After discussing how Stephen and Susan met in college in America, Witley tells him he must leave. Stephen says it is not Mrs. Witley he is here to see but Susan. At this point Susan calls out from the top of the stairs and runs down to greet Stephen. Witley says for Stephen to tell her that he must leave at once and cannot explain why at this time. He tells Merwyn to get the car ready.

    Susan is overjoyed to see Steve and invites him up to meet her mother. Witley insists that it is forbidden for his wife to have visitors. Susan says its only for a few minutes and that her mother has been waiting to meet him. As they go upstairs, she shows him a portrait of her great grandfather who built the house over 150 years ago. The next portrait is of her grandfather whom she says went insane. Witley, watching them go upstairs, says to Merwyn that Stephen must not stay.

    Susan explains to Stephen that her mother is not well. They enter and she addresses her mother, Letitia Witley (Freda Jackson), who tells them to come in and close the door. They approach the bed which is shrouded in netting. Susan introduces Stephen and Letitia tells him that he is expected and welcome. She asks to speak to Stephen alone and Susan exits. Letitia tells Stephen to sit down and he does so.

    Meanwhile Witley descends on an old elevator with a pulley chain. Merwyn meets him at the bottom and wheels him through dark corridors. At one point Merwyn almost collapses and Witley asks if hes all right. He answers that he is and that he can be trusted.

    Stephen asks why all the questions. Letitia tells him to come close and take a wooden box by the bed. Inside is a golden earring which she says belonged to her maid who came down with a strange disease. It is explained that the disease caused her to hide under a veil and not want anyone to see her.

    Witley and Merwyn go through an underground chamber containing a vertical door laden with cut squares from which steam escapes around the sides. Witley rummages through a box with chains and random machine parts but finds nothing he wants. He goes to another spot and recoils when he sees a rat there.

    Letitia tells Stephen that the maid came back to see her and said she was afraid of what she had become. She dropped the earring as she was leaving and has not been seen since. Letitia wants Stephen to promise to take Susan away the next day.

    Witley and Merwyn are seen chaining up the door to a greenhouse. Stephen comes out and tells Susan he has the mothers blessing. She shows him his room, where he asks how long the mother has been sick and if the doctor had forbid her to have visitors. Susan explains that it has only been a few weeks and that Witley refused to let her see a doctor. Stephen asks about the maid, whom he says the mother was very concerned about. She asks what else they talked about. He tells her that her mother was interested in whether or not his intentions were honorable. They kiss, which is observed by Witley, who is sneaking a look from the door.

    Witley goes and tells his wife that she should not have invited Reinhart there. There is talk about how evil the grandfather was, but Witley explains that he has long been dead and that the evil is buried with him. She says how much he has become like his father, who consorted with demons. He denies being like his father, claiming it is she who is obsessed with the subject. He pours himself a drink, saying that whatever happened to his father will not happen to him. She says its already happening and that she witnessed the elder change from an upright God-fearing man to one possessed by the devil. She insists than Corbin was calling upon the dark forces at the time of his death and now they are here. She wants Stephen to take Susan away. He wants Stephen to leave and not interfere. She threatens to go into town and show everyone what the former beauty Letitia Witley looks like now. He agrees that Stephen can stay one night, but no more.

    Merwyn is serving soup to Witley, Susan and Stephen at a dining table. He clumsily almost drops the soup in front of Witley and apologizes. Stephen sips his soup and looks around curiously. Susan smiles at him. Witley looks very concerned and shows no appetite. Trying to make conversation, Stephen remarks how big and regal the room is. Susan says there used to be banquets there in her great grandfathers time. There have been none in her recent memory. Stephen asks why and Witley says that the name of Witley no longer commands the respect it once did. Stephen says that must be why no one in the village would have anything to do with them. Witley agrees and says the feeling is mutual. He asks if Mrs. Witley has had her supper. Merwyn says he took up a tray but she wouldnt touch it. Susan offers to take something up to her mother later.

    At this point a horrible shriek is heard echoing through the house. Stephen asks what it was but Witley doesnt answer. So Stephen asks about the burned area. Witley remains silent, but Susan tells him that there was a fire. She admits she hasnt seen it, because her father has forbidden her to go to the heath. Stephen says nothing grows there and how strange it is. Witley repeats that Susan has already told him that a fire was there. Stephen responds that no fire leaves an area like that. Susan says a few villagers disappeared in that area.

    Merwyn, who has been carving meat, brings some to the table and collapses on the floor, pulling the tablecloth and dishes off. They crowd around him and Stephen asks whats wrong. Witley tells him that he knows exactly what to do and that this has happened before. He tells Susan to take Stephen out of the room.

    Later, Susan takes a tray of food to her mother, who refuses to eat. Letitia tells Susan to be quiet and listen. Nothing is heard, but Letitia answers yes. Yes. as if answering someone.

    Stephen looks through an old book in the library. He hears a noise behind him but sees no one. He picks up another large old book. It bears the name of Corbin Witley and the title CULT OF THE OUTER ONES. Another pages states: CURSED IS THE GROUND WHERE THE DARK FORCES LIVE, NEW AND STRANGELY BODIED. HE WHO TAMPERS THERE WILL BE DESTROYED.

    Susan, in her room, turns and is horrified to see the black figure looking in at her from the window. She screams and runs to Stephens room. Hearing the scream, he leaves the library and also goes to his room. She rushes to his arms and tells him of someone looking at her from the window. He asks if she was imagining it. She wearily answers that she doesnt know. She says that there is something smothering about the house. He tells her that he is taking her away and they embrace. He suggests they leave tonight. She insists that she cant leave her mother in such a weakened condition. He reminds Susan that it was her mother who asked him to take her away. He says tonight but she refuses. Then he says first thing in the morning. She answers that her mother may not be any better then. Suddenly the figure appears at the window and she calls out. When Stephen looks, the figure has moved on. He suggests it is her imagination and tells her to get some sleep before tomorrow. They kiss.

    A candle is extinguished by a black and gnarly hand as the lights go out in the mothers room. Stephen is back reading from the old book when he hears another shriek. He goes to investigate and Susan joins him in her nightgown and robe, carrying a candle. He tells her it came from downstairs.

    As they descend the staircase, another anguished cry is heard echoing through the house. They go further in the darkened house and hear something falling. As they pass by a fireplace, a burnt log falls out. They continue on to a door and Stephen asks what room it leads to. Susan tells him it is Merwyns room. They open the door and creep in. They come to another door, and just as Stephen is about to grab the doorknob, it opens to reveal Witley, who appears distraught. He tells Susan that they shouldnt have come down here. Stephen said they heard the screams. Witley tells them that is was Merwyn, who is now dead. Stephen wants to know how he died and see the body, but Witley refuses, saying he will run his own household. Stephen insists that a man has died, but Witley closes the door behind him, and Susan pulls him away. Inside, Witley pours a glass of wine and drinks it.

    Stephen tries to insist that they leave immediately, but Susan refuses. After she goes back to her room, Stephen goes back downstairs. He sees Witley rolling the body of Merwyn out of the house and into the greenhouse. Witley is standing as he moves the body inside.

    Stephen enters Merwyns room and looks around. On the floor he sees what looks like burn marks in the shape of a body. He goes outside and sees Whitley digging a grave. Going to the glowing greenhouse, he finds it padlocked. He leaves before Witley can get there. Witley checks the greenhouse door and finds it still locked. Stephen runs back into the house and climbs upstairs. Witley follows. Blowing out the candle in his room, Stephen gets under the covers in bed and pretends to be asleep when Witley looks in on him. Coming alongside the bed, Witley reaches to grasp the candlestick, but a noise is heard as of something falling. Witley leaves the room and Stephen gets up and closes the door.

    Stephen goes out at first light onto the grounds. The black figure is seen and a shriek is heard. The figure attacks Stephen with a knife and he sees that the face is distorted and freakish. He escapes the attack and the figure leaves.

    Stephen goes into town and enters a phone booth but only looks in the phone book. Having located a doctor, he goes to the doctors house and is admitted. Dr. Henderson (Patrick Magee) comes in and begins drinking. He explains that he has been retired for some time. Stephen wants to know why everyone is afraid of the Witleys. Henderson refuses to talk about it and tells him to leave. On the way out, the woman Miss Bailey tells him that Corbin Witley died in Dr. Hendersons arms. There was no autopsy, no body, and no one saw him but Dr. Henderson. He was never the same after that and retired.

    Susan tries to get her mother to open the bedroom door, but there is no answer. Witley comes and sends her away. He tries to convince Letitia to open up. Inside we see that the room is in shambles, clothing strewn all around on the floor and furniture turned over.

    Susan and Stephen walk outside and he tells her about the glowing light inside the greenhouse. He says it resembled something he saw once in a radiation lab. He tells her that he saw Witley burying Merwyn last night. He also is sure that the black figure who attacked him was the maid Helga. He says the greenhouse is padlocked. They go there.

    Witley speaks to his wife through the door, telling her that he will take her to the doctor. She is seen cowering in the corner of the room, moaning. As she turns, we see that half of her face is deformed.

    Seeing that the greenhouse is locked up, Stephen asks if there is another way in. She is reluctant, but he convinces her it is important to find what is inside. She shows him how she used to get in the greenhouse through a side panel. They enter and see fantastic plants beyond their normal size. A strange droning sound is heard. They find many flowers and plants of unusual size. Then another shriek is heard. Susan says the back room used to be a potters shed. Stephen insists that they find out what is in the darkened room. She is afraid what her father will do, but Stephen convinces her that this is what is affecting her whole family and they will not leave until they understand everything. She agrees to come with him.

    Inside the room they find a glowing substance which he says is radioactive. Another shriek causes Stephen to shine a light where he sees a number of grotesque creatures in cages. He remarks it looks like a zoo in hell.

    Outside in the greenhouse, he explains that the creatures are mutations from being exposed to the radiation and that the large plants were also made large by exposure to radiation. As they look around, he takes a trowel and begins digging in the soil under a plant. He finds a dark glossy stone giving off heat. It is shown that all the plants have a stone buried with them, causing the growth. He wonders where the larger stone is that these were broken off from. He suggests the cellar. Susan remarks that her mother and Helga worked in the greenhouse.

    All at once a plant reaches out and envelopes Susan. She screams and Stephen comes to her rescue. She is surrounded by tendrils from the plant and Stephen finds a gardening tool to hack the plant away. He takes Susan to the door and kicks it open for them to escape.

    Back in the house, Stephen tells Susan to go upstairs while he searches the cellar. Meanwhile Witley is still calling to his wife through the door. Stephen opens a door to find a skeleton hanging from a wire. Upstairs, Susan finds her father asking what happened to her. She tells him they were in the greenhouse. He wants to know where Stephen is. He grabs her arm to twist it and she admits he is in the cellar. Witley takes off for the cellar.

    Fighting off bats, Stephen discovers the large cover containing the stone. The droning sound is heard. Witley approaches and demands that he leave. He tells Witley that the stone is destroying everyone and everything there. Suddenly a scream is heard from above. They race to see Susan.

    Stephen finds Susan on the floor and embraces her. Witley comes and asks if shes all right. Witley insists on finding Letitia and Stephen takes Susan away. They begin searching rooms as thunder and lightning are heard outside. One or more doors are blown open and flop about. Witley heads out calling his wife. The wind blows open a window and smashes a vase on a table as the curtains blow. They enter a large drawing room and close the windows. The wind blows the door shut and Stephen tells her its only the wind. They go to enter another room and a woman comes out, hideously deformed. They run downstairs with the hag following. They go into a large room and lock the door. The woman breaks through and attacks Stephen. He struggles with her and knocks her down. She gets back up and attacks him. He backs up against the glass doors and moves aside as she lunges. She falls through the doors. As Witley comes in and watches, the woman staggers forward and collapses. Her face is seen to melt, bleed and collapse. Witley tells Stephen to take Susan away.

    In the cemetery Witley tells Stephen that the evil of Corbin attacked his family. He tells of when the stone fell from heaven and glowed. Everyone came to see it but stayed away from the glowing. Stephen says it was a meteor and had nothing to do with Corbin or a curse. Witley says he took it into the house and cut it into smaller stones in the hopes of beautifying the countryside and raising great crops of food and flowers. He was hoping to restore honor to the name of Witley. Susan comes up and urges him to come back to the house. He tells them to go away. Susan insists she wont leave her father. Stephen tells her that nothing else can be done. She appeals to her father but he commands her to go away with Stephen.

    As they go to pack, Witley gets an axe and opens the lid to the stone. Inside the glowing and humming is heard. He hacks it with the ax and breaks it. Helga comes in with a knife to attack him. He recognizes her and tries to defend himself with the ax. She grabs it and comes forward. She strikes the stone with the ax and more flashes occur.

    Upstairs, they hear Witley cry out. Stephen tells her to stay there and he goes to investigate. The many satanic symbols and drawings on the walls are seen to glow. Witley lifts his head from over the stone and is seen to have a radioactive spot on his face. His face and hands show the radiation spreading rapidly. By the time Stephen arrives, there is no sign of Witley, except for the trail of glowing handprints on the walls. Stephen follows them and finally meets Witley, who is now glowing from his head and hands. He attacks and Stephen runs upstairs with Susan and they lock the door. Witley breaks through the door. Stephen tells Susan to wait over to the side until he tells her to run. Stephen hurls fireplace tools at Witley but he continues to attack. Stephen calls for Susan to run and she does. Witley begins to chase her. She hesitates by the top of the stairs and he breaks through the railing and falls to the floor below. There is an explosion and a fire breaks out. Susan almost falls below and Stephen lifts her back up. They go downstairs as the fire spreads to the house. The flames are so hot they have trouble getting out. Finally they find a door and flee the house.

    They look back at the burning house. She asks why did this have to happen? He says it didnt have to happen, but her father chose to use it to protect the Witley family instead of helping all people. He tells her to go. As the flames engulf the house, we see the image of Corbin, which seems to alter its expression.

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