The Old Dark House (1932)

Written by John Chard on April 24, 2019

Beware The Night.

As a violent storm rages, five travellers in a remote part of Wales take refuge at a creepy looking mansion that's home to the "odd" Femm family...

Weird, exciting and positively funny haunted house film with a top cast that's directed by one of Horror's greatest directors, James Whale. Based loosely around J.B. Priestley's novel "Benighted", the piece is further boosted by excellent camera work from Arthur Edeson and a screenplay that positively zips with memorable moments. Upon release in America the film was poorly received, yet unsurprisingly given it's British dryness, it was well liked in Britain. Even spawning an imitation in the form of The Ghoul, with both Boris Karloff and the irrepressible Ernest Thesiger again starring.

The Old Dark House got a reissue in the late 30s after the Horror genre had been reinvigorated by the likes of King Kong, but sadly it fell off the radar once the rights had reverted to Priestley. The film then appeared to be lost for many many years until Curtis Harrington (director of such TV Horror fare like Killer Bees) found a print in the archives in 1968, and thankfully got the funding to have the film restored and preserved. Thus now, and as far from perfect as the print is, the piece can be enjoyed by anyone with a bent for such a unique blend of Horror & Comedy.

You have to be prepared for its kooky nature to truly enjoy the experience, but all being well The Old Dark House will continue to garner new fans with each passing year. The supreme director and marvellous cast deserve that at least. 8/10