AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Night of Terror
Alternate Title: He Lived to Kill
Director: Ben Stoloff (Dir)
Release Date:   24 Apr 1933
Production Date:   1 Mar--13 Mar 1933
Duration (in mins):   61 or 64-65
Duration (in reels):   7
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Cast:   Bela Lugosi (Degar)  
    Wallace Ford (Tom Hartley)  
    Sally Blane (Mary Rinehart)  
    Tully Marshall ([Professor] Richard Rinehart)  
    Bryant Washburn (John Rinehart)  
    Gertrude Michael ([Aunt] Sarah Rinehart)  
    George Meeker (Arthur Hornsby)  
    Mary Frey (Sika)  
    Matt McHugh (Bailey)  
    Edwin Maxwell (The Maniac)  
    Pat Harmon    
    Oscar Smith    

Summary: A killer known as The Maniac is on the loose near the grounds of the Rinehart estate, where Arthur Hornsby explains to the elderly Professor Richard Rinehart that his formula will prevent people from dying when buried alive. Later, the gravedigger, who is preparing a grave for Arthur's demonstration, is killed, and Sika, wife of the servant, Degar, tells everyone that death hangs over the house. Late that night, Professor Rinehart is killed in his lab, and when fast-talking reporter Tom Hartley arrives with the police, they find the gravedigger's body as well. As the Rinehart relatives, John and Aunt Sarah, gather to hear the reading of the will, Arthur continues his preparations for the experiment. After a group of professors bury Arthur, Tom, who has called for a taxi, finds the car's driver stabbed to death by The Maniac, and rushes to town to notify the authorities. Meanwhile, John is killed by an unknown assailant when he tries to get the formula to revive Arthur, and the police arrive. The remaining members of the household hold a séance, during which Sika is killed. Degar is accused of the crime, but escapes. Then, Mary is seized by a masked figure, who quickly disappears when she faints. When Mary revives, she sees The Maniac and her screams summon help. Arthur's coffin is dug up and found to be empty, but Degar then leads Arthur through an underground passage into the grave, and all believe his experiment worked. However, Degar explains that actually a trapdoor connected the coffin with a tunnel leading to the house, allowing Arthur to sneak out and commit his crimes while his burial acted as his alibi. Arthur planned his experiment to divert suspicion from himself as he killed members of the Rinehart family. With Arthur caught, the uncaptured Maniac addresses the audience from the next room and warns them that if they reveal his identity, he will haunt them and tear them from limb to limb. 

Production Company: Foy Productions, Ltd.  
Production Text: Harry Cohn, President
Distribution Company: Columbia Pictures Corp.  
Director: Ben Stoloff (Dir)
  Lester Neilson (Asst dir)
Producer: Bryan Foy (Prod)
Writer: Beatrice Van (Scr)
  William Jacobs (Scr)
  Willard Mack (Story)
Photography: Joseph A. Valentine (Cam)
  Arthur Rankin (Asst cam)
Film Editor: Walter Hilton (Film ed)
Sound: Lambert Day (Sd eng)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Columbia Pictures Corp. 17/4/1933 dd/mm/yyyy LP3811

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Photophone System

 
Genre: Mystery
 
Subjects (Major): Experiments
  Insanity
  Live burial
  Murder
 
Subjects (Minor): Coffins
  Death and dying
  Laboratories
  Mansions
  Police
  Professors
  Reporters
  Séances
  Secret formulas
  Taxicab drivers
  Tunnels
  Wills

Note: The working titles for this film were Terror in the Night and He Lived to Kill . Although a modern source states that Bela Lugosi's scenes were shot at night to accommodate his schedule because he was filming The Devil's in Love at Twentieth Century-Fox during the day, this was not the case. Night of Terror was completed on 13 Mar 1933 and released on 24 Apr 1933; The Devil's in Love did not begin production until Jun 1933. IP mistakenly credits "Arthur Rankin," rather than Walter Rankin, as assistant cameraman on this film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   7 Jun 33   p. 7.
International Photographer   1-Apr-33   
Motion Picture Daily   1 Jul 33   p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald   5 Aug 33   p. 40.
Variety   27 Jun 33   p. 25.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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