The Old Dark House

February 28, 2016 at 7:04 pm (6 Heads, Old Dark House) (, , , , )

The Old Dark House – 1932 – United States

On a dark and stormy night in Wales, travelers seek shelter in a spooky manor. The manor’s denizens are a family of kooky old folks. Their mysterious, threatening, and outrageous dialogue suggests misfortune will befall everyone in the house. It turns out that a deranged arsonist is locked in the attic. He escapes and tries to burn the place down, but falls down the stairs and dies during a struggle. Dawn comes and everyone is safe.

The Old Dark House is a strange film. It has very little plot, instead focusing on the antics of its quirky characters. There is a deaf religious fanatic, her nervous brother, two young lovers, a loudmouthed businessman, and others. Boris Karloff plays a hairy mute butler who goes berserk when drunk. For some reason, the manor’s 102 year old patriarch is played by a woman. The dreary, sparsely-furnished house also has a lot of character. The film’s effects and cinematography are occasionally inventive too.

The history of The Old Dark House is at least as interesting as the film itself. It was produced by Universal Pictures. It bombed in America, was a hit England, and then was lost for several decades. The film was remade by William Castle in 1963, and the original film was found again in 1968. Director James Whale also directed Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Rating: 6/10 Shrunken Heads. The Old Dark House created a whole genre. Check out the “Old Dark House” tag on this blog for numerous examples.

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