(1940)2.5Hans J. WollsteinThe second of Monogram's "East Side Kids" programmers was directed by Joseph H. Lewis and his deft hand is easily detectable. No, this quasi-horror comedy is no forgotten masterpiece -- how could it be with those mugging, language-mangling East Side Kids/Bowery Boys? -- but Lewis does employ a couple of interesting camera angles and obviously attempts to compose a scene with a sense of esthetics, a far cry from "one take" Monogram hacks like William Beaudine or Phil Rosen. Lewis cannot do much with the Kids themselves, of course, and they are mainly left to fend for themselves, but Minerva Urecal makes a creepy housekeeper (she even has a dead "Rebecca" to moon about) and ingénues Inna Gest and Dave O'Brien both perform up to their potential, minor as it may have been. Screenwriter William Lively should perhaps be forgiven for not only plagiarizing Daphne DuMaurier but also, in one or two instances, James Whale's The Old Dark House (1932) --plagiarism, after all, being the sincerest form of flattery -- and with a little help from the casting department, the identity of the killer comes at least somewhat as a surprise. As for the East Side Kids themselves, they remain purely a matter of taste.