Murder In The Red Barn (1935, B&W):
Squire William Corder is a shallow, evil, loathsome man whose heart is as black as the night. Yet his lack of virtue is concealed beneath a facade that is charming enough to fool the simple people of his village and powerful enough to seduce the pretty young maiden Maria Marten. While at a country dance in the Red Barn, Maria casts aside the love of the gypsy Carlos, a young man whose ragged shirt conceals a heart of gold and finds herself hopelessly drawn to the villainous Squire Corder... and to her doom. Learning that the young girl has become pregnant, Corder brutally murders her in an attempt to conceal his foul deeds.
Murder in the Red Barn was the then fifty-year old British stage actor Tod Slaughter's first feature film. Directed by Milton Rosmer.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936, B&W): Unsuspecting wealthy customers have their pockets picked and their throats slit in Sweeney Todd's barber chair. His accomplice, Mrs. Lovatt, grinds the victims into the meat pies she sells in her pastry shop. Meanwhile, the mad barber has a romantic eye on a beautiful daughter of a business partner whom he is threatening to ruin financially. She, however, is in love with a handsome seaman who has embarked on a trip to earn the money he will need to wed her. When he returns as a wealthy man to his bride-to-be, he first stops for a shave at Sweeney's chamber of horrors. The demented barber sharpens his razor to make the young man his next victim!
Directed with a smart tongue-in-cheek flair by George King, who helmed the best of Slaughter's films, Sweeney Todd features sharp performances and witty dialogue that transcends the age of the film. The bizarre and gruesome subject matter gained renewed interest nearly four decades later when Stephen Sondheim adapted the story into an unlikely smash Broadway musical.
Crimes At The Dark House (1939, B&W): Percival Glyde is murdered in his sleep with a wooden spike that is hammered into his skull. His killer (Tod Slaughter) steals his identity and moves into Glyde's London mansion. The family lawyer, who has not seen the real Percival since he was a boy, informs the madman of Glyde's arranged marriage to the beautiful heiress Laurie Fairlie. Greed and perversion drive this lunatic to the brutal killing of anyone who attempts to unravel his secret identity.
Crimes at the Dark House is one of many horror films starring British actor Tod Slaughter (Sweeney Todd, The Face at the Window) and directed by George King. Based on a novel by Wilkie Collins, this story was adapted a second time for the 1948 Warner Brothers film, The Woman In White.
Face At The Window (1939, B&W): In the year 1880, Paris is reeling from a series of fiendish murders... the work of a deranged maniac known as "The Wolf." Meanwhile, Lucien Cartier, a bank clerk who hopes to marry the owner's daughter, finds himself the lone suspect when the bank is robbed. The evil and lascivious millionaire, Chevalier Lucio del Gardo, frames the innocent Lucien and accuses him of being the mad killer terrorizing Paris. Forced into hiding, Lucien begins to draw a connection between del Gardo and the unsolved murders and enlists the help of a so-called mad doctor. The doctor's experiments with raising the dead may be the only hope young Lucien has to escape the gallows and rescue Cecile from the clutches of del Gardo. Directed by George King.
Horror Maniacs (aka The Greed of William Hart) (1948, B&W): Two ghoulish grave-robbers supply dead bodies to a medical school by any means necessary... including murder! Moore and Hart, sinister and violent criminals, are a reflection of their surroundings - grim, impoverished 19th-century Edinburgh. The greedy pair abuse their wives and can often be found drunkenly languishing in the decaying confines of the local tavern. When the inebriated Mary Paterson enters the pub with her friend Janet, Moore convinces her to return with him to his lodgings. Hart joins Moore in the gruesome murder of Mary, dismembering her body to fit it into the trunk they use to transport corpses. Dr. Cox, in charge of the medical school, accepts the latest delivery and expresses an interest in a half-witted young man named Jamie. Moore and Hart conspire to add the unsuspecting lad to their growing list of victims. Meanwhile, Janet has enlisted the help of her noble friend Hugh Alston to investigate Mary's disappearance and convince authorities that Moore and Hart are blood-thirsty murderers.