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The Old Dark House [DVD] [1932] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.5 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Region 1 encoding. (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the UK [Region 2]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats)
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Product details

  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: KINO VIDEO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000ILEU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 82,049 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 21 Nov. 2006
Format: 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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