Eight years earlier, when Tony was a youth, he had left a suicide note and had apparently jumped off a seacoast cliff, but his body had never been recovered. A grown man resembling Tony appears, claiming that he had simply run off. Eleanor wants to believe that the man is Tony. Harriet Ashby (Burrell), their Aunt, is immediately hostile and calls the man an impostor. Simon pret...
Eight years earlier, when Tony was a youth, he had left a suicide note and had apparently jumped off a seacoast cliff, but his body had never been recovered. A grown man resembling Tony appears, claiming that he had simply run off. Eleanor wants to believe that the man is Tony. Harriet Ashby (Burrell), their Aunt, is immediately hostile and calls the man an impostor. Simon pretends to be more open-minded about the situation.
However, Simon knows the man is an impostor, because he had actually tricked Tony into writing the suicide note, and then murdered him. Filled with remorse over his crime, he had then hidden the body behind a brick wall in a chapel on the estate (these facts are not revealed until near the end of the film). From time to time, when depressed, Simon would retreat to the chapel and act out a scene in which he would pretend his brother was still alive. He would play a phonograph record of Tony singing, while Simon would play the organ, in the company of his doting Aunt, who would dress in grotesque makeup and play the part of the dead brother. "Tony" and Eleanor stealthily observe this ritual through a window. Eleanor is spotted by Harriet out of the corner of her eye. Aunt Harriet slips outside and tries to attack Eleanor, but is stopped by "Tony". The Aunt then explains about the ritual, and blames "Tony" for awakening Simon's psychosis after it had seemingly been dormant for years.
Eleanor finds she is falling in love with her supposed brother. Overcome with conflict over her seemingly incestuous thoughts, she is about to commit suicide, when the man restrains her and confesses that he is not her brother Tony, but instead is a con man hired by the embezzling family attorney, John Kossett (Denham).
The fake Tony investigates the chapel, and finds Tony's mummified body. He is about to leave, but is stopped by Simon, who fills in the missing plot details about having killed Tony. Simon then slugs the man and binds him to a pillar. When the man comes to, Simon is playing the organ, with the real Tony's body now seated on a chair next to the organ. Simon informs the impostor that he and Tony have had a talk and have decided to have the man "join" Tony. Harriet appears, and persuades Simon to leave; that she will take care of the situation. Unfazed at seeing the corpse, it is evident that she also knew the truth.
After Simon leaves, Harriet throws down a lantern, setting the chapel afire, and she rushes off. Eleanor quickly turns up, unties the fake Tony, and sees the real Tony's body briefly. Eleanor and the man flee the estate rather than returning to the house. With the chapel ablaze and Tony's body inside, Simon's madness takes him over. He leaves the house and staggers to the chapel to try to "rescue" Tony, but collapses as he clutches Tony's skeletal remains. The fire rages on as the film ends.