The Human Monster

The Human Monster is currently available on Amazon Prime

The Human Monster (aka Dead Eyes of London, 1939)

“A series of strange deaths takes place in London. All are accidents but the victims are single men with no family and they all have a link to a life insurance company run by the mysterious Dr. Orloff. “

“You have been very foolish, Lou. You are blind, and you cannot speak. But you can hear – and that will never do!”

The Human Monster is based on the 1924 novel The Dark Eyes of London by Edgar Wallace. This is more mystery than monster movie as both British movies of the era and Edgar Wallace novels tended to be. Many of the plot devices are trite by today’s standards but perhaps they were fresher then. There is a plot twist that I won’t spoil but you will probably see it coming a mile off (though my wife didn’t).

Adapted for the screen and directed by Walter Summers, The Human Monster became the first British film to receive a rating of ‘H’ (Horrific). While Summers directed thirty-eight movies and wrote forty-six movies, he would only direct two more before retiring: The Torso Murder Mystery (1939) and House of Mystery (1940).

Bela Lugosi headlines here and is urbanely evil. He plays a philanthropist but it quickly becomes apparent that he insures clients and then profits from their demise. He only gets to go into megalomaniac mode late in the film but that does not make his performance any less enjoyable.

Wilfred Walter plays a brute named Jake. You can tell he is a brute because he has bad teeth (bad guy shorthand). He does a fine job of grunting but the teeth look like they were purchased from the back of a comic book. Greta Gynt, a very popular British actress of the 30s and 40s plays Diana Stuart, the female lead. Gynt tried, unsuccessfully, to parlay her fame to Hollywood fame in the 1950s but it was too late.

There is also an American detective visiting London. He is used to poke fun at American police methods (i.e. brutality). The commentary is fun but not subtle.

Much of the plot revolves around a home for the blind. Blindness is treated better here than in most films. The Stainsbury/Stainsby machine, a shorthand Braille typer, is shown here as are several instances of Braille and a variety of coping mechanisms in the home.

Sequelitis: This was remade in 1961 as Dead Eyes of London, one of a series of German Edgar Wallace adaptations.