The Cat Creeps (1930) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

The Cat Creeps (1930) Review

Horrorific content by TE Simmons on December 06th, 2021 | Movie Review | Classic Horror, Creature, Haunted House

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It’s about a misanthrope’s estate plan and people disappearing in a dark old mansion.

The Cat Creeps was co-directed by Rupert Julian (The Phantom of the Opera) and John Willard (who also scripted the play on which the film was based) and it stars Helen Twelvetrees (Millie), Raymond Hackett (The Trial of Mary Dugan), and Neil Hamilton (best known as Commissioner Gordon from the Batman television series).

What’s in the mysterious second envelope and who will live long enough to find out?

The Cat Creeps Review

The Cat Creeps is based on a 1922 melodrama-play. It’s a talkie remake of a silent film (The Cat and the Canary (1927)) released just three years earlier. It’s also twinned to a Spanish version (La Voluntad Del Muerto (1930)) that was shot simultaneously – like Tod Browning’s Dracula which was filmed alongside a Spanish version of the same film, Drácula, utilizing the same sets, but with different actors and a different director.

Later, The Cat Creeps was remade a third time as The Cat and the Canary (1939) starring Bob Hope, this time as a pure comedy. Universal also released a second film titled The Cat Creeps (1946) but it is unrelated to the 1922 play and instead mimics Horror Island (1941). Finally, there’s a fourth remake by a British production company, The Cat and the Canary (1979).  

Both this film – The Cat Creeps (1930) and its Spanish twin, La Voluntad Del Muerto (1930) – are lost films. About two minutes of The Cat Creeps survive by virtue of a ten-minute film, Boo! (1932) in which a wisecracking host mocks horror flicks. Also, sound discs of the film’s soundtrack survive. And what with the play and the three other versions, it’s possible to reconstruct the film with some detail.

A mystery thriller with a laugh here and there, The Cat Creeps was generally praised by contemporary critics but compared unfavorably to the silent version, which, they noted, enjoyed better pacing.

The plot centers around the death of millionaire Cyrus West some twenty years before the action opens. His heirs are summoned to a creepy mansion. His will is read, and a second sealed envelope is waved about – only to be opened if the terms of the will are honored. Secret panels open up. Screams rip through the cobwebs. And the fun begins.

West’s grandniece Annabelle (played by Helen Twelvetrees) is hemmed in by some untrustworthy competing heirs and likely carried most of the drama to a more or less predictable conclusion. But we can’t be sure. It’s a lost film.

Worth Watching?

Sure, but you can’t. It’s a lost film.

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