Monday, August 9, 2010

The Rogues' Tavern (1936) - The Ghouls Take a Holiday

We've discussed before the ever-popular "old dark house" type mystery. You know the ones: strangers gathered for some reason - perhaps they were driven there by a storm, perhaps they are gathered for the reading of a will, perhaps they are simply being paid - in a creepy old house, trapped with no way out until morning, and soon they are being picked off one by one. sometimes the murderer turns out to be one of them. Sometimes it's their host. Sometimes it's some previously unseen or unknown third party. Usually there are secret passages or unseen traps. Sometimes, as in House on Haunted Hill, there's a pit of acid in the basement. Every once in awhile, there are even actual ghosts.

The Rogues' Tavern is definitely a variaion on the old dark house theme, the twist this time being that the role of the house is being played by the Red Rock Tavern. That's right, kiddies, today we've got an old dark hotel. The other twist on the usual pattern for this type of movie is that in this case the murderer may not even be a who, but a what, as it appears that the victims have been savaged by a wild animal. Is it possible that the killer is perhaps some kind of wild dog or wolf? Or maybe even something more bizarre?

Unfortunately, in the end this is a mystery that doesn't play completely fair with the audience, and the "howdunnits"seem at times a bit implausible, but it is entertaining a long as one is willing to simply go along with and accept certain elements. There is enough humor (both of the intentional and unintentional kind) to keep the proceedings light, and the characters are engrossing enough that, while you might not wind up completely invested in them, you don't wind up rooting for the murderer just to kill them all and get it over with.

Unfortunately, the only clip I could find to embed is from near the end of the film, and is something of a spoiler, so if you plan to watch it, proceed with caution.

And here's the Skinny:
Title: The Rogues' Tavern
Release Date: 1936
Running Time: 70min
Black and White
Starring: Wallace Ford, Barbara Pepper
Directed by: Robert F. Hill
Produced by: Sam Katzman

The Rogues Tavern is available to watch or download for free here.
It's also available to purchase on DVD from Amazon: Rogues Tavern (1936) [DVD]
Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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