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  • The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD]
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The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD]

32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Lilian Bond, Ernest Thesiger
  • Directors: James Whale
  • Format: PAL, Black & White, Mono
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Network
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Aug. 2006
  • Run Time: 69 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,454 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


An American in England decides to go and stay in an old country house with his friend Casper Femm. Upon his arrival he is informed of Casper's untimely death, and is then introduced to the rest of the family, but as evening draws on members of the family begin to get murdered and the murderer must be found before there is no-one left alive.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Lavin on 21 Oct. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having seen this film before recorded some years back on an old VHS tape,I decided to purchase it on DVD. The film is very atmospheric, set on a dark stormy night out in the middle of rural Wales two different groups of travellers lose their way and stumble upon a very old house where they ask to seek shelter for the night. The inhabitants of the place are a very odd bunch, the Femm family which consists of a brother and sister and their mute brutish sibling, Morgan played by Boris Karloff who causes mayhem in the house after having one too many drinks. The film itself is set almost completely dark after the house is plunged into darkness after a power cut, the guests try to make the most of the situation, their enjoyment however is disrupted by the strange behavior of their hosts and Morgan releasing the fourth member of the family Saul who has a history of insanity and who once apparentely set the house on fire in a fit of madness, as we learn from the seemingly more civilised brother.The film certainly conveys a feeling of isolation with the setting of the house and the persistent howling of the wind outside. The only light in the interior of the dwelling is given off by a few candles and one or two oil lamps which makes the atmosphere all the more gloomy. Admittedly, this film will seem very dated to most people and the manner of some characters very strange indeed for example the elderly zealous sister and her very stiff accentless voice who quarrels often with her brother and makes references to the "Wicked past" of the house. It won't suit everyones' taste, but if horror films of the thirties appeal to you then chances are you will enjoy this.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful By C. Hughes on 20 July 2004
Format: DVD
With an all star cast,this film directed by James Whale who later went on to direct Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein is,on one hand typical of a genre that was already becoming a cliche thanks to earlier films such as The Cat and the Canary in the early 1930s when it was released,but on the other hand represents probably the finest of it's kind with genuine chills and laughs along the way.
The story centres on travellers in Wales who,during a terrible storm,seek shelter in the 'Old Dark House' with it's strange inhabitants including Horace Femm,superbly played by Ernst Thesiger later to consolidate his place in the Horror Hall of Fame in Bride of Frankenstein,Karloff's Morgan the Butler - the 'brute mute' whose behaviour changes dramatically with a taste of alcohol,Horace's mad sister,their 102-year-old father,and their homicidal pyromaniac brother who is safely locked away in a room on the highest floor of the house........until Morgan changes matters somewhat.
Charles Laughton,with a heavy Lancastrian accent and scene-stealing (?spoiling) manner and a young Gloria Stuart (later to star in James Cameron's Titanic in 1997) provide the comic relief.
As a macabre comedy,it had no peer until the Bride of Frankenstein was made 2 years later.
There are genuinely scary moments during the 72 minute ride,with superb plot and character development during the film although some aspects of the story seem more unbelievable than the actual horror parts (eg.2 characters meeting for the first time,falling madly in love and a subsequent proposal of marriage in less than 24 hours).
The film stands up well today,with good DVD transfer and sound (thanks to the discovery of a copy on laser disc some years back) and I'd thoroughly recommend it as a purchase for genuine horror fans - to be watched on a dark night,with the lights off,the fire roaring,and a mug of cocoa by your side.....just DON'T LOOK BEHIND YOU ! ! !
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 Aug. 2007
Format: DVD
What a great and weird film...scary, funny, unsettling, sophisticated. And the Femm family..."They were all godless here. They used to bring their women here - brazen, lolling creatures in silks and satins. They filled the house with laughter and sin, laughter and sin. And if I ever went down among them, my own father and brothers - they would tell me to go away and pray, and I prayed - and left them with their lustful red and white women." "The fact is, Morgan is an uncivilized brute. Sometimes he drinks heavily. A night like this will set him going and once he's drunk he's rather dangerous." "Have a potato?" Ernest Thesiger as Horace Femm is a movie unto himself. The film stars one of my favorite actors, Melvyn Douglas, as a skeptical, somewhat disallusioned and reluctant hero.

Three travelers, motoring through the Welsh mountains late at night, are caught in a cold, thundering downpour. Their map is useless, the road is getting washed out and they are lost. Then they see a light from a lonely hulk of a large stone house. They pull up and run to the door, knocking loudly. The door opens, slightly. Staring at them is an unkempt, bearded mute with a mutilated face. A reedy, unseen voice tells them to enter.

And that's just the first five minutes.

For the next hour we witness how these three travelers, Roger Penderel (Melvyn Douglas), his friend Philip Waverton (Raymond Massey) and Waverton's wife, Margaret (Gloria Stuart), plus two other lost souls, William Porterhouse (Charles Laughton) and his companion, Gladys DuCane (Lillian Bond), deal with the eccentric and strange Femm family and the family's manservant, Morgan (Boris Karloff). The Femms and Morgan are more than eccentric; they can be unpleasant and dangerous.
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