Donald Cook

The Ninth Guest (1934) - Roy William Neill

A solid attempt at the usual haunted house film. That sets itself apart with its cinematography and well written scenes. The film has no soundtrack and does a good job of setting the scene. I had more fun watching this than I had with a lot of films from this year. The filmmaker doesn't want this to be just another Old Dark House so he added the element of a sadistic survival game. It has a great twist that keeps things moving along at a decent pace. I started the movie with pretty low expectations and ended up liking it a lot. 

The movie has the perfect amount of humor and a lot of intrigue. It plays out like an early production of Clue and Saw. Not a bad feature. Eight people are invited to a mysterious party at a strange penthouse in the city. The guests sit around speculating about each other and realize that no one knows who is throwing the party. Then the fun begins. Their host introduces them to a game in which each one of them will be murdered unless they can outsmart Death. Their ninth and final guest. 

Here we have your first real survival horror movie. Chaos created for the antagonists entertainment. The guests die off just as promised. They are exposed and then brutally murdered by a sadistic obsessed villain. Mostly gunshots, but a few really creative kills. Watch for the electrocutions. They are the best up to that date. 

The actors are all pretty believable. Donald Cook is the veteran. He was also in The Mad Genius. The Ninth Guest stars Genevieve Tobin, Donald Cook, and Hardie Albright. None of which do a terrible job. The film forces a good deal of character development and gives you some really different people. Although you still have the dimwitted helper as comedy relief. You are intricately introduced to each person and you learn that they are mostly all deplorable people. Well done all around. This one should be more widely known. It's surprising that I had never heard of this one before. The copy that I viewed was downloaded from the internet archive. This is a fantastic copy that has a great picture with really decent sound. 

Cigarette...? It's good for the nerves. 

  • Based on the play "The Ninth Guest" by Owen Davis.
  • Filmed in 35mm. 
  • An early production from Colombia Pictures.