Old Dark House The (1932)

Old Dark House The (1932)

Directed by horror genre (soon to be) legend James Whale based on a novel by J.B. Priestley with a screenplay by Benn W. Levy this offbeat comedy drama (thriller) entertains with its wonderful cast and memorable dialogue. It makes this reviewer wonder if The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) cult classic spoof used this film as its basis. If like me you saw the latter film first you’ll find this one to be a laugh riot! “Have a potato” and “NO BEDS!” are just two of its great (oft-repeated) lines. It’s definitely worth the short time investment (just over an hour) it takes to watch it. Very fun!

The titled house is indeed dark and it’s filled (up) with interesting characters: Boris Karloff’s drinking lecherous manservant Morgan; the always charming Melvyn Douglas as Roger Penderel AND the excellent Charles Laughton playing a different kind of character Sir William Porterhouse (early roles for both of these actors); Raymond Massey as Philip Waverton and a surprising beautiful Gloria Stuart as his wife Margaret; and actress Elspeth Dudgeon plays the old man!

It’s a dark and stormy night so travelers Philip and Margaret Waverton and their friend Roger stop at the Femm residence “the old dark house”. Aged tall and frail Horace (Ernest Thesiger) and his cranky sister Rebecca (Eva Moore) reluctantly agree to let the visitors stay the night fearing a pending landslide. Soon wealthy Sir William arrives with a chorus girl named Gladys DuCane (Lilian Bond) in tow. These “guests” soon learn of a secret “in the attic” a third Femm sibling named Saul (Brember Wills) who’s kept under lock and key; Morgan serves him his meals. As it turns out Saul is dangerous a religious fanatic with a knife. Perhaps starting a trend for the genre there is some “forbidden” sex between Gladys and Roger. Of course Saul will get out of his locked room and wreak havoc.

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