(1942)2.5Craig ButlerYes, there's a lot that's wrong with Night Monster -- but there's also a fair amount of pleasure to be had from this admittedly-second tier Universal horror flick, especially for those who can't get enough of this kind of picture. As with so many others in this genre, credibility is a big problem -- not about the premise, because one assumes that a movie about "fantastic" doings will by its nature include plot elements that are not really to be found in the real world. The problem is that so many characters act in the most obvious and idiotic way; the film needs victims, so intelligence and common sense fall by the wayside, as so often happens in the celluloid world of mystery and suspense. The plot also gets a bit convoluted, and the dialogue is decidedly overripe (which may be a plus or a minus, depending upon one's enjoyment of such dialogue). More problematic is that top-billed Bela Lugosi and Lionel Atwill are wasted in roles that are far too small -- Atwill disappears after the first half hour or so, and though Lugosi stays for the whole film, his role is of too little importance. (Both actors, by the way, give dependable performances that will not disappoint their fans). Ralph Morgan is a bit much, but Irene Hervey and Fay Helm do quite well (and look quite attractive into the bargain). Director Ford I. Beebe creates solid atmosphere on what was a very quick and economical shoot (and which forced him to utilize some stock footage in several instances), and Charles Van Enger is invaluable for his creepy cinematography. Special appreciation is also due Beebe for his astute use of sound (or lack thereof) to heighten tension.