HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
Wing Commander
Look Back in Anger
   
 
Newest Articles
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
Wash All This Scum Off the Streets: Vigilante Movies
   
 
  Black Room, The Oh BrotherBuy this film here.
Year: 1935
Director: Roy William Neill
Stars: Boris Karloff, Marian Marsh, Robert Allen, Thurston Hall, John Buckler, Torben Meyer, Katherine DeMille, Henry Kolker, Colin Tapley, Edward Van Sloan, Egon Brecher, Helena Grant, Marion Lessing, Robert Middlemass
Genre: Horror, Historical
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: In his castle, the Czech Baron de Berghman (Henry Kolker) waits tensely for news of his wife giving birth. When she does, the event is not a happy one for him, as it raises the possibility of the family curse being revived - his wife has given birth to twins. Legend has it that this family line was created in the murder of an older brother by the younger and this will happen once more, but as the babies are twins, how could this come true now? The doctor points out that Gregor was born a minute ahead of the younger Anton, so the prophecy could still play out, and the Baron is not going to be persuaded otherwise. Time passes, and the Baron and his wife die, leaving the land to Gregor, but he grows up to be hated by the populace for his cruel ways. Now, ten years after the brothers (Boris Karloff) last saw each other, they arrange to meet again...

For some reason Boris Karloff never starred in a Hammer Horror, but with The Black Room you can imagine what it would have been like if he had, with its draughty castles, middle European Gothic chills and the spectre of death hanging over everyone, not mention the grumbling villagers ever-present: it's like the template for the British studio's future played out twenty-five years before. Scripted by Henry Myers and Arthur Strawn, who also devised the story, the film awards Karloff with one of his best roles, as this being the tale it is, one of the twins, Anton, is the thoroughly decent one, and the other, Gregor, is the thoroughly evil and hissable one.

Karloff offers a performance to relish as Gregor, alternating between glowering and grimly grinning as he exploits the villagers, but paranoid with it as just about everyone wants him dead. When Anton turns up with his big dog at the local tavern, of course the chatter stops and so does the music, as is traditional, but Gregor, unwilling to leave his castle, sends someone to go and fetch him; during the carriage ride, a shot is taken at Anton by a would-be assassin hoping to kill Gregor and the mild-mannered Anton is suitably shocked. But not as shocked as he will be when he finds out that his brother, who treats him with hospitality, has a penchant for murdering the local young women.

It's not all moody, as there is a pair of uninteresting lovers as part of the plot, Thea (Marian Marsh), the daughter of Gregor's right hand man Colonel Hassel (Thurston Hall), and her beau, the dashing Lieutenant Lussan (Robert Allen). Naturally, Gregor has his eye on Thea and works out a way to marry her which unfortunately involves bumping off Anton in the dreaded Black Room, which everyone thought had been walled up to prevent any prophecy coming true. Gregor lures Anton inside (the trick photography to render the two Karloffs in the same scene is excellent throughout) and pushes him to his death into the pit of bodies - now there's no way that the younger brother can kill the elder, or is there? As Gregor imitating Anton, the star is surprisingly subtle, lifting what could have been a run of the mill historical thriller to higher realms - he's also great fun to watch and the ending is inspired. Good dog!
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2837 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: