HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Devil to Pay, The
Gypsy
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Becky
Salon Kitty
Misbehaviour
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Horror Crowd, The
Matthias & Maxime
   
 
Newest Articles
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
   
 
  Old Dark House, The creepy, kooky, mysterious and spooky
Year: 1963
Director: William Castle
Stars: Tom Poston, Robert Morley, Janette Scott, Joyce Grenfell, Mervyn Johns, Peter Bull, Fenella Fielding, Danny Green, John Harvey, Amy Dalby
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: American car salesman, Tom Penderel (Tom Poston) visits England to deliver a new automobile for creepy Casper Femm (Peter Bull), and is lured back to spooky Femm Hall where he finds his friend stretched out in the parlour. Dead, under suspicious circumstances. Poor Tom finds himself stuck in the old, dark house with the eccentric, sinister Femm family, although pretty cousin Cecily (Janette Scott) makes a bad situation bearable. A strange quirk of fate suggests Tom might be a long-lost heir to the Femm family fortune, which only scares him more once someone starts bumping them off, one by one.

A co-production between Hammer Films and legendary gimmick-horror auteur William Castle (The Tingler (1959), 13 Ghosts (1960), The House on Haunted Hill (1958)), this ought to be something special but never really catches fire until the last five minutes. It was based a J.B. Priestley play, previously adapted by James Whale in his 1932 classic of the same name. Castle takes a more cartoon-like approach, evident from the wonderful animated credits by Charles Addams (watch out for the hairy paw that signs his name!) and Benjamin Frankel’s ooky-kooky score.

At heart it concerns an easygoing Yank befuddled by English eccentricity, a strain that would eventually mutate into darker, more cynical films like An American Werewolf in London (1981). Tom Poston, also in Castle’s strange fantasy Zotz! (1962), is initially affable as the part-James Stewart/part-Don Knotts hero (“I’m not strange, I’m American”), but grows blander as the story grinds through too many mistimed gags and pointless chases with homicidal mute, Morgan Femm (Danny Green). Janette Scott on the other hand, is very winning in a tricky role that springs a typical, William Castle twist.

Much like Terence Fisher’s The Horror of It All (1964), this strains to be kooky and strange, but its self-conscious spoofery can’t match the black humour and genuine creepiness Whale brought to the material. What it does have going for it is a great cast of British comedy icons: Robert Morley as gun-crazy Roderick Femm; dear Joyce Grenfell as dotty, knitting enthusiast Agatha Femm; glassy-eyed Peter Bull as Casper; Mervyn Johns as Petiphar Femm, who keeps an animal-laden ark in his backyard and believes the end is nigh; and the sublime Fenella Fielding as sultry Morgana Femm - introduced with a camera zoom onto her bosom. If Castle had used 3-D you’d lose an eye. Things pick up in the latter stages, with some surreal gags (our hero imagines a seal has Morgana’s face) and a spirited finale where Tom races to disable a series of bombs. Fielding went on to expand her comedy vamp persona in Carry On Screaming (1966), a movie that beats this version of The Old Dark House at its own game - and I say that as a lifelong Carry On hater.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5566 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 star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: