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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Bride of Frankenstein?
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...
Published on 20 July 2004 by C. Hughes

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
i missed subtitles in either English or scandinavian
Published 5 months ago by Henrik Machholm


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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Bride of Frankenstein?, 20 July 2004
By 
C. Hughes "cwidifa" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever, Amusing and Scary. "Have a potato?", 3 Aug 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (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. There's Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger), skeletal, elderly and effete; his deaf and religiously fanatical sister, Rebecca (Eva Moore); their psychotic and murderous brother, Saul (Brember Wills) who must always be kept locked up; and their 102 year old aged father, Sir Roderick Femm, who is bed-ridden.

Most of the movie is shot in the great room of the Femm house or up the stairs. The only light is by candlelight, the fireplace or dim electric light while it lasts. Shadows are everywhere, dark shadows that can hide more than secrets. And throughout the long night the rain keeps pouring down.

Does anyone die? Well, one. Is this a Boris Karloff monster movie? Nope. Karloff as Morgan plays an important role, but the movie isn't about him. The movie is about style. It's indirect and clever and at times it is very amusing. Certainly the cast couldn't have been improved upon, especially the actors playing the unnerving Femm siblings.

The movie, in my view, holds up very well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic spooky film, 21 Oct 2009
By 
K. Lavin "OLD MOVIE BUFF" (ST.HELENS,U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ernest Thesiger rocks the House!, 21 Nov 2006
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
If you're expecting a horror movie, forget it - that aspect doesn't really kick in until the last couple of reels and was probably pretty old hat even in 1932. What you get is something altogether more unexpected and much more welcome - one of the greatest comedies of manners ever made.

Those who don't like their wit dry need not apply, but those who do are in for a real treat. Charles Laughton's blustering but good natured Yorkshireman channels more than a pinch of George Formby, but it's Ernest Thesiger who steals the show even more wholeheartedly than he did in Bride of Frankenstein - never has one man got so much comic mileage with so little visible effort from the words "Have a potato." Forget Dr. Pretorius, this is the absolutely unique Thesiger's finest hour. There are plenty of good lines to go round the rest of the tremendous cast ("Not even Welsh should sound like that," notes Melvyn Douglas when confronted with Karloff's grunting), the characters are really rather likeable for a change, and even the wildly unconvincing casting of an actress to play the family patriarch does not detract. Not a horror classic, not a prototype slasher movie (despite its obvious influence on the genre), but a truly great comedy. Sit back, pour yourself a gin and have a potato...

Because the film was believed lost for years after its 1939 reissue until a print was discovered in 1968, none of the DVD releases are great quality, though Image's US NTSC DVD trumps Network's UK version with a better transfer and some decent extras - an audio commentary by co-star Gloria Stuart, a second commentary by historian James Curtis, stills gallery and an interview with director Curtis Harrington, a friend of James Whale's who was responsible for rescuing the film from oblivion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "No beds, they can't have beds!!"., 4 Jan 2010
By 
Martin Cusack "film-git" (Galway, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
Full of macabre humour and gloriously eccentric acting, James Whale's 1932 classic is fully deserving of its cult status. Whale's films from this period have aged magnificently, mainly because his ironic and witty approach gives them a very modern feel. "The Old Dark House" showcases Whale's mastery of atmosphere, his wonderful use of sound, lighting and visual effects combine to perfectly evoke the creepy ambience of the dysfunctional Femm household. Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff form an impressive cast but the film is well and truly stolen by Ernest Thesiger and Eva Moore as the sinister and hilarious Femm siblings. Both actors have an inimitable way with a line and their delightfully eccentric performances provide many of the highlights of the film. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoyed the incomparable Bride of Frankenstein, this is a wildly entertaining yarn from a master of the form, dripping with atmosphere and tongue-in-cheek humour. Best enjoyed at about 2AM, with a storm raging outside!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No beds, but potatoes for all..., 24 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
When I was a teenager, an Aunt of mine used to rave about this film (she thought it was terrifying), but I never got around to seeing it. Since most of the mainstream channels seldom show any 'old' films now, I have been catching up on classic films so finally got around to buying this. What a hoot and a riot this film is! James Whale shot the film through with exceptional pitch black humour.

Watching it in retrospect, it is clear to me how it has influenced so many other films - "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and, yes, even "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" sprang to mind! I found the acting to be generally very good, but with exceptional performances from Ernest Thesiger as Horace Femm, Eva Moore as Rebecca Femm, and Brember Wills as Saul Femm. (In fact, I wonder if Maria Ouspenskaya's performance in 'The Wolfman' was somehow influenced by Eva Moore, albeit in a not comedic way?)

Whilst it did not truly chill me, I did find some quite unsettling moments, such as when Horace is making every excuse under the sun to avoid fetching the lamp, and when Saul engages with Penderel. It is definitely a film I would watch again, either at Hallowe'en or on a very stormy night.

The quality of the film is, to be honest, poor, especially towards the end when it becomes very crackly, blobby, etc. However, it did not mask my enjoyment at all and, in many ways, the crackly quality actually enhanced the experience! That said, it would be great if it were possible for this classic film to be remastered and restored.

Recommended!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAVE A POTATO....OH GO ON !!!, 19 Oct 2006
This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
I love this film. The atmosphere of the incessant rain, wind & interesting characters is just wonderful. As much as this is a horror film, the humour is a joy. The fact that the man of the house welcomes the guests kindly contrasts brilliantly with the old lady insisting ''THERE'S NO BEDS !!!''. Aarrgh !! that woman !! Surely she has a good side too ?? This is one of those films which I can watch many times over & still enjoy. I'm off to have a potato now. Toodle pip !!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Film, Poor Print, 14 Nov 2010
This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
Just to re-iterate J Bishton's review...this is a great classic but a cheap release. The quality of the film is poor and true to the all consuming profiteering mentality current infesting business practice no investment was made to restore the print nor any effort made to find a better print. Scraps from the table and typical of Region 2 releases. If old and classic films are your thing, as they are mine, invest in a dvd player that plays Region 1 (or adjust your players region code if you can) as they seem to have the cream of the crop.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant film, not -so-good dvd., 12 Nov 2004
By 
S. Hapgood "www.sjhstrangetales.com" - See all my reviews
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My criticism of my DVD is that the sound was fractionally off-kilter, so I had that annoying mistake of the lips being slightly out of sync, which took some getting used to. After a while though the film itself is so good that I stopped noticing it. This film does exactly what it says on the tin. "The Old Dark House" is that classic staple of horror fiction: a bunch of misfits take refuge in a remote house during a violent storm, and find that they have to contend with worse horrors than the weather can throw at them. I never get tired of this scenario, and this film is the best of the lot. Beautifully filmed by "Frankenstein" director James Whale, we get oodles of dark shadows, roaring fires, locked rooms and sinister noises. The cast, which includes the great Charles Laughton, and the very lovely Gloria Stuart, are also first-rate. Inspirational stuff.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great film but needs a Masters Of Cinema release, 23 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] (DVD)
First of all, "The Old Dark House" is an eclectic film to have in a collection if like me, you love all those b&w '30s horror films. The night-time stormy atmosphere, the excellent performances of the mumbling Boris Karloff and the late Gloria Stuart (what a stunning looking woman!), makes this an outstanding film of it's time. An optional commentary by Kim Newman is included, as is an eight page booklet.

However, as I have found typical of Network's other releases, the lack of care in their presentation of this disc is annoying to say the least. Yes, it is an old film and nobody should expect crystal clear viewing, but if a film is worth releasing it is worth the effort to sharpen it up visually. Just as important in this type of film that relies on atmospheric sound as an accompaniment to overall enjoyment, is to ensure good quality sound is on the disc. Sadly, this is another fault on this disc, the volume had to be almost doubled to make benefit of the audio. Another of Network's releases, Bryan Forbes excellent 1964 film "Seance On A Wet Afternoon" suffers from the exact same problems as this James Whale directed film. Personally, I hope that one day, Masters of Cinema get the rights to do a remastering job on this film as they did such a fantastic job on the 1921 "Nosferatu."

4 stars for the film.
2 stars for the slapdash release from Network.
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The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD]
The Old Dark House [1932] [DVD] by James Whale (DVD - 2006)
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