The Spook Speaks

Length: Two reels
Release date: September 20, 1940
A Columbia Pictures Production
Producer: Jules White
Director: Jules White
Script: Clyde Bruckman and Ewart Adamson
Photography: Henry Freulich

Buster Keaton: The House Caretaker
Elsie Ames: His Wife
Lynton Brent: Professor Mordini
Bruce Bennett: The Professor's Former Assistant
Dorothy Appleby: A Newlywed Bride
Don Beddoe: A Newlywed Husband
Orson: The Penguin

Professor Mordini is a magician and spiritualist whose house includes all sorts of gruesome and ingenious machines and tricks. Buster and Elsie are to be the caretakers while he’s away for six weeks, guarding the house against Mordini’s assistant Felix, who wants to steal Mordini’s tricks. The scares begin as sheets blow onto Buster, and Mordini’s penguin, Orson, starts making noise. To top it all off, a newlywed couple, including a self-professed spiritualist bride, decide to stay in the mansion when their car breaks down.

The frights multiply as the assistant and his girlfriend get into the house and set to work. They use the various controls in Mordini’s basement to move furniture, make the lights flicker on and off, fly fake ghosts and set dead-body dummies all over the house. The married couple decides to leave, as do Buster and Elsie. Even Orson gets a little scared. Finally, Felix scares them all off with floating instruments and dancing skeletons. — Nick Ciccone