The Old Dark House [DVD]  [US Import] [NTSC]
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IN THIS ARTFUL MIXTURE OF CHILLS AND GHOULISH GALLOWS HUMOR, A GROUP OF WEARY TRAVELERS FIND THEMSELVES TRAPPED IN A WINDSWEPT WELSH MANOR WITH THE PSYCHOTIC FEMM FAMILY.
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ! ! !
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is such a fantastic film from horror maestro James Whale. Its a sort of black comedy with gothic horror chills. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Max
Excellent addition to my collection. Delivery & service 1st class, i'm very pleased.Published 9 months ago by Christopher
An old style effective gothic horror. Not so scary but quite fascinating.Published 10 months ago by Elleppi
This is A Brilliant comedy horror from Karloff and the Great James Whale.Its just the right side of Creepy with a Wicked dash of humour running through it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Mrs. D. Moncrieff
This film is ok, picture is bit off and the sound not too good, but typical Boris Karloff, weird part. But was a bit disappointed as really did not come to anything. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Denise Honeyball
Good film with all the horror stars in it, drags a bit but still goodPublished 12 months ago by Gary Knight
atmospheric black & white thriller, perfect for a curl up on the sofa type of dayPublished 14 months ago by Alison Barnes