Entertainment Weekly - 12/29/1995 Ranked #9 in Entertainment Weekly's "10 Best Video Releases of 1995" -- "...The ne plus ultra of the travelers-stranded-in-a-creepy-mansion genre..."
Total Film - 10/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "The original bump in the night, THE OLD DARK HOUSE is a neglected horror classic..."
Sight and Sound - 10/01/2006
"[The film] combines spirited special effects and some genuinely creepy moments with self-parodic humour and some warped eroticism."
Description by OLDIES.com:
Weary travelers find shelter in a mysterious Welsh manor in this definitive "Old Dark House" thriller and cult movie favorite by horror pioneer James Whale (the director of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein, and the subject of the 1998 film Gods and Monsters).
Greeted with an animal-like grunt by the mansion's hideously scarred butler (Boris Karloff), three disoriented voyagers (Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey, and Lillian Bond) find themselves in the unwelcoming company of the psychotic Femm family, whose members include a religious fanatic obsessed with morality and other matters of sinful flesh (Eva Moore), her browbeaten brother (Ernest Thesiger), and a scripture-quoting homicidal pyromaniac (Brember Wills)...all watched over by their androgynous, 102-year-old father (Elspeth "John" Dudgeon). Relieving the story's overwhelming weirdness are Charles Laughton and Gloria Stuart (1997's Titanic) as two confused visitors to the strange estate.
As witty and surprising as it is darkly unsettling, The Old Dark House is a ghoulishly delightful treat, a one-of-a-kind macabre comedy blanketed with rain-soaked, gothic eeriness orchestrated by one of the foremost directors of the American horror film.
James Whale's horror-comedy classic is one of the first and best of the travelers-forced-to-spend-the-night-in-a spooky-house genre films. Driving through a dangerous rainstorm, Philip and Margaret Waverton (Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart) and friend Penderel (Melvyn Douglas) must seek shelter at a foreboding Welsh mansion. Met by the disfigured, mute butler Morgan (Boris Karloff) and the bizarre members of the Femm family, the guests quickly realize that something is awry in the shadowy mansion. When the lights go out, the situation becomes even more ominous. Will the stranded travelers make it through the night in the old dark house'
Based on the novel BENIGHTED by J.B. Priestly, THE OLD DARK HOUSE is the second of James Whale's classic horror films (FRANKENSTEIN). Driving through a terrible rainstorm, Philip and Margaret Waverton (Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart) and their prankster friend, Penderel (Melvyn Douglas), suddenly find the road blocked by avalanches. Spying lights ahead, they hammer on the door of a creepy mansion, which is opened by the hideous, towering butler, Morgan (Boris Karloff). The house's inhabitants, Horace Femm (Ernest Thesiger), a funereal gentleman, and his shrill, mostly deaf sister, Rebecca (Eva Moore), provide a cold welcome.
The situation gets spooky when fanatical Rebecca tells Margaret about the death of her "wicked" 21-year-old sister, and Horace warns the guests about Morgan's impending drunken violence. Some levity is provided by the arrival of two more windblown travelers--the boisterous Sir William Porterhouse (Charles Laughton) and his chorus girl companion, Gladys (Lillian Bond). The five hapless guests must band together to fight the increasingly violent and supernatural happenings and to discover what lurks behind the padlocked door on the landing. The combination of Whale's beautifully expressionist cinematography, black comedy, suspense, and fine performances makes for gripping viewing throughout.
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