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The Old Dark House Reviews

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filmlover1994
December 9, 2012
One James Whale Film, 1931's Frankenstein Is One Of My Favorite Films.
Sgt. Cockstrain
November 8, 2013
(67%)
A true horror classic in the greatest sense that's only mildly hampered by its very dated script, although it does add to the films charm. Pretty much the perfect Halloween movie that after all those years is still a very creepy part of cinema history that every horror fan should watch and cherish.
February 25, 2014
I like talkative movie, but this is loads of chatter, it takes forever to start, the atmosphere is nowhere as good as many describes, with bits of elegance and spook but lots of lumbering shots and lousy camera angles and editing. The house doest have that much personality, and the story is inane. This is no lost classic, just a resurfaced contrived effort that gains prestige for being dusty but not in a good way. Some of the casting is bad, the lady antagonist is just frumpy and the man one is just grumpy, while boris Karloff ends up looking lost in there with not much to work with.
Kevin Rimney
February 19, 2014
For me as a fan of good film this is an all out winner. It's a horror comedy from 1932 and it delivers an atmospheric menace which for the time was more than enough horror for a night out with a clever humour and charm. There isn't much to the story but it's the characters and the actors bringing them to life which raise this to all out winner. Whales direction is here and yes this film I think deserves to stand along side Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein in the horror genre, this however is not as serious and really is more of a comedy. A strange film with unforgettable performances by several of the cast.
SarfarazAbbasi
January 28, 2014
(Frankenstein - Bride of Frankenstein - The Invisible Man). Starring legendary Boris Karloff, legendary Charles Laughton, Gloria Stuart (Titanic 1997), Melvyn Douglas, Lilian Gold, and Eva Moore. Film was adapted by the novel called 'Benighted' by J. B. Priestley who also co-wrote the script for the movie with R. C. Sherriff and Benn W. Levy). Made on the budget of $250000 -distributed by Universal Pictures. Andrew Cohen edited the film, and Arthur Edeson was the director-of-photography. The Old Dark House was previously believed to have been lost, until it was found in the vaults at University Pictures. And it resurfaced upon the release of Titanic in late 90s (in which the star of the film 'Gloria Stuart' plays elderly role of Rose Dawson).

Film is set in post-First World War Wales (UK) - In a stormy-rainy night that blocks the way-back due to landslide Raymond, Gloria together with Douglas (war-veteran) seek refuge at a mansion. The door is opened by beard heavy looking Karloff (the butler of the house). The guests are oddly welcomed by Ernest (elderly lanky scion of the house) and Moore (an elderly deaf sister of Ernest). All three are given simple boiled potatoes in dinner, drinks, place to change soaked up clothes as well as to stable their vehicle. All of a sudden there is another knock on the door, the guests are Charles Laughton and his so-called girlfriend Lilian Bond.

There is something quite suspicious about this family members. Ernest asks Raymond to go upstairs and bring candle-stand which is too heavy for him age to ascend and bring. Raymond overhears child-like voice from an enclosed door. Morgan goes crazy having been boozed up (as alarmed previously by house-dwellers) and attacks Gloria. Later Raymond and Gloria go upstairs to find out more, where they meet 102 years old father of Moore and Ernest. Meanwhile Douglas and Lilian are romancing outside the house - as Charles helps elderly Moore shut windows of the room.

To call this movie 'horror-film' is way beyond the limit; and likewise to call this a comedy cannot serve the purpose at all. This film was James Whale's struggle to tarnish Karloff's popularity whom he thought had been receiving over-popularity in 'Frankenstein'. No scene in the movie keeps you guessing, 'what's about to happen now'. I am surprised that it has received score on RT far than it actually deserves. I am going to be spooked right away, by the sudden emergence of human-hand on stair-railing, the low-pitch voice of an oldest man on the house, or the bashing of Raymond by crazy short-heighted adult man.

One of the weakest films of James Whale.
August 9, 2010
Really quirky, atmospheric 30s horror/comedy. This has got to be a pre-code film as there's some quite risque stuff in here. Awesome seeing a super young Gloria Stuart (old Rose from Titanic). They sure as heck don't make films like this anymore, which is so very sad.
July 25, 2013
It's a classic horror tale, the apotheosis of all "Old House" spooky films.
June 27, 2013
I found this one watchable and while I know that it sort of inspired its own genre of films that followed, I wasn't overly blown away with this one on the whole.

Worth a look as an educational piece, but I don't know how often I might come back to it.
May 15, 2013
The overall arc of this romantic comedy is fairly predictable but during it's progress there is adequate humour and even an element of profoundness. Keir Gilchrist is not the most convincing of leads but as the straight man to the more talented members of the cast he serves his purpose.
June 13, 2012
So horrible. I can't believe that so many critics could rate it so high. I like old films, but this was dreadfully boring.
September 1, 2012
What an odd and amusing little film.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2013
Its got a hulking Boris Karloff, a shouting Charles Laughton, and a sassy Melvyn Douglas . . . what's not to like? It feels a bit rushed and perhaps there is some wasted potential but I enjoyed it all the same.
February 17, 2013
Atmospheric and moody as any old horror flick should be. The protagonist's dailogue and "comedy" need work, but overall a good creepy early talkie.
Matthew J.
December 16, 2012
'The Old Dark House' is an old-school creeper, a kind of a movie today's generations need to have more of. Forget CGI, nudity and cat scares, this is how you make a horror film.
October 29, 2010
A spooky haunted house mystery with some nice character actors and a solid final act.
November 12, 2012
Likely my favorite of Whale's films - a damn near perfect blend of grotesque humor and horror. The ensemble cast is perfect, and if Ernest Thesiger overshadows top billed Karloff, that's not so unforgivable.
November 1, 2012
Boris Karloff considered this a waste of his talents and he may well have been correct. A somewhat over rated feature...
October 31, 2012
Looking for a fright film to watch tonight? You might try "The Old Dark House" from 1932 and directed by James Whale. This is a great film with all kinds of things going for it. It's atmospheric in spades and creepy to be sure (especially a distorting faces montage sequence done with mirrors - a bit ahead of its time, I daresay), but it actually has more touches of humour than outright horror. Much more than the loose narrative, the film is really about the development of its quirky collection of characters, thrown together on a dreadfully stormy night in the Welsh mountains in an 'old dark house', and their stage-like byplay and repartee - the fun ranges from the dour bible-thumping half-deaf sister chastising her family for being atheists to an amusing after-dinner conversation on the merits versus unworthiness of "money-making", i.e. capitalism. And what a cast! Boris Karloff (doesn't really do much, but what the hell), Melvyn Douglas (love his character), Charles Laughton (great as always), Lilian Bond (perfect as the chorus girl looking for something more), Ernest Thesiger (really 'the straw that stirs the drink' here, indispensible to the proceedings - of course, he, along with Karloff, soon after showed up in Whale's landmark "The Bride of Frankenstein" as the memorable Doctor Pretorious and during the course of the proceedings a slyly fun nod is given to his "Dark House" character here and his inclination for gin), Eva Moore (the aforementioned sister), Raymond Massey (every ensemble needs a stiff like him - think Leslie Howard), Gloria Stuart (glamorous). And if you like your fright films to be nice and tight, you get tight here - it clocks in at only 72 minutes long.
August 26, 2011
Great, spooky, old fashioned haunted house thriller about a group of people trapped in a fierce storm while traveling through the English countryside and forced to take refuge in an old mansion populated by a very strange family. Directed by the legendary James Whale (Frankenstein) and starring genre greats Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton and Raymon Massey, House is a charming and spooky fun time the likes of which they don't make anymore. A great stormy night movie. Old Dark House was originally part of the famous Universal horror films series but, Uni sold the rights for an awful remake in the 60s. The film languished in limbo till rescued by fans and released on DVD.
EXTRA TRIVIA: The wife of Massey's Philip is played by Gloria Stuart, the same Gloria Stuart who played Kate Winslet's character as an old woman in the hit film Titanic!
October 25, 2012
Early creepy Karloff flick. Great atmosphere and performances. If you like this kind of thing, you'll love this film.
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