HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon
Benediction
Nezha Reborn
Evil Toons
Worst Person in the World, The
Whirlpool
Hunter Will Get You
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Revolver
Men, The
Parallel Mothers
Sadness, The
Bloody New Year
Faye
Body Count
Spider-Man: No Way Home
'Round Midnight
Wild Men
Barry & Joan
Wake Up Punk
Twin, The
Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
One of These Days
Lift to the Scaffold
Savage Dawn
Rest in Pieces
Innocents in Paris
We're All Going to the World's Fair
Beyond the Door 3
Jules et Jim
Love Jones
Saint-Narcisse
Souvenir Part II, The
   
 
Newest Articles
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
   
 
  Old Dark House, The Tall Storeys
Year: 1932
Director: James Whale
Stars: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger, Eva Moore, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Elspeth Dudgeon, Brember Wills
Genre: Horror, Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: It is a dark and stormy night, and three people are travelling the Welsh countryside through the high winds, torrential rain and threatening floods, quite lost. The driver, Philip Waverton (Raymond Massey), is increasingly exasperated, and his wife Margaret (Gloria Stuart) is close to panic as she tries to read the sodden map and gets nowhere with it. However, the passenger in the back seat, their carefree old friend Roger Penderel (Melvyn Douglas), is treating the situation with good humour, even when a landslide nearly buries them. Then, up ahead, a house looms out of the blackness - would it be a good idea to seek refuge there?

Well, it would get them out of the storm, but they won't necessarily be safer, put it that way. The Old Dark House was director James Whale's follow up in genre to his huge success Frankenstein, and was similarly well-received, though fell into, if not obscurity, then a lower profile than the previous horror classic, and indeed the one to come, his sequel Bride of Frankenstein. In fact, for many years it was believed lost forever until a print was found, and that's the one you'll see if you seek this out today, which may not be in great shape but that scratchy, crackly version only adds to the rich atmosphere as if you're watching a relic of a bygone age.

The influence of the Penderel character means that the film begins in a light, though still macabre, mood, as the three travellers invite themselves into the house of the title after being relcutantly welcomed in by the owner, Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger). Normally, Thesiger would be a scene stealer in this type of thing, but he has some healthy competition from the other cast members who range from eccentric to outright insane. With all this idiosyncrasy to relish in the performances, it's to Whale's credit that none of the cast is lost in the mounting hysteria, and each make their mark, with only Stuart (better known these days as the little old lady from James Cameron's Titanic) given the less meaty role of the woman in peril.

They're actually all in some degree of peril, and not simply because of the atrocious weather outside. The family the Wavertons and Penderel find themselves among are not the friendliest bunch, but they do allow them to stay and put up with Horace's nervousness, the religious mania of his sister Rebecca (Eva Moore), and the menace of the mute and getting drunker all the time butler Morgan (Boris Karloff, bringing out the brutishness of his Frankenstein character to sketch in his heavy here). But they're not the only souls in the place - for a start, more travellers arrive in the shape of cheerfully obnoxious industrialist Sir William Porterhouse (Charles Laughton) and his lady friend Gladys Ducane (Lilian Bond).

Gladys brings out Penderel's softer side as a somewhat perfunctory romance develops, but this does not detract from the dread. There's someone locked in the attic room, as with many good (and not so good) chillers of this stripe, and you just know he will be let out at some point near the end to cause havoc. Morgan is the man planning to release him, as if he wasn't enough of a danger himself as he tries to rape Margaret and takes three men to hold him down - there's a lot of down and dirty brawling in this film. J.B. Priestly's original novel Benighted was more of an observation on the state of the British nation, and while there is a measure of that here with the older generation corrupted by madness and the younger, the ones who had to got to war, at their mercy, mainly this is a thrill ride that turns from black comedy to tense, but still enjoyable chills without seeming contrived. In its way, it's an archetype, and none the worse for that.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3585 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Enoch Sneed
   

 

Last Updated: