Crimes At The Dark House
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- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 8 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: November 23, 2004
- Originally Released: 1939
- Label: Alpha Video
- Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
- Packaging: Keep Case
Performers, Cast and Crew:
|Directed by||George King|
|Screenplay by||Frederick Hayward|
Description by OLDIES.com:
Crimes at the Dark House is one of many horror films starring British actor Tod Slaughter (Sweeney Todd, The Face at the Window) and directed by George King. Based on a novel by Wilkie Collins, this story was adapted a second time for the 1948 Warner Brothers film, The Woman In White.
Movie Lovers' Ratings & Reviews:
Based on 32 ratings.
I'm beginning to like this Tod Slaughter. He always seems to play a character you just "love to hate." Some have compared him to the American Lugosi/Karloff-type actors but I believe he is in a catagory all to himself. This movie may not have you on the edge of your seat but it won't leave you uninvolved either and that's for certain. Enjoy!
It seems surprising - not knowing the copyright situation with Wilkie Collins original - that a quota quickie producer like George King should be able to get his hands on a respected literary source like THE WOMAN IN WHITE. However, the script rewrites the story so it is entirely told from the viewpoint of the false Sir Percival Glyde. Other adaptations might tell the tale from the viewpoint of the heroines as they struggle to unravel the mystery - but we are aware of the deception from the start as Tod creeps into a sleeping gold prospectors tent and dispatches him in a manner that suggests he's read Hamlet.
The disadvantage of this approach is that the fascinating, complex characters of Collins' text are flattened to one-dimensional cyphers. Laura is as much of a shrinking violet as she is in the novel but the fascinating figure of Marion (sapphic hints well suppressed here) is sidelined for much of the time. The annoyingly-hypochondriac Mr Fairlie seems more robust and more of a stock-comic figure. But the reduction of the fascinating figure of Count Fosco to Glyde's stooge is the most grievous oversight. Fosco - a roly-poly lovable eccentric who liked dogs and sunlight - was all the more chilling for being above suspicion unlike the obviously-villainous Glyde. For all that Hay Petrie brings to the part, it's just a shadow of what it could be.
What do we get in compensation for this? Two words - Tod Slaughter. His films are unique in that we get to view the story from the villain's perspective - imagine James Bond from Blofeld's viewpoint. He rises to the occasion here and is at his most lecherous - fixing his beady eyes on a comely maid whom he assigns "special duties", then strangles when she becomes inconveniently pregnant, gleefully snogging Laura upon first meeting her, and finally trying his evil way on her sister at the climax saying "I used to break precipitous horses in the Australian gold fields, and I'll enjoy breaking you!" Seldom has any villain cackled so evilly as Tod does here. Tod may start the film in an understated fashion as "Sir Percival" comes home but he's soon giving us the full melodramatic range - shifty up-to-no-good expression, comic exasperation as the bills pile up, and unashamed lechery as - convincingly sloshed on his wedding night - he ominously mounts the stairs as his squeamish bride waits fearfully in her bed. Incredibly, he is allowed to have his "wicked way" with her. Further examples of unbridled villainy include opening the window in the bedroom of the pneumonia-ridden Woman in White - having announced he expects a "change in her condition" - and luring one victim to her death saying she will, shortly, "be going on a long journey". Freddy Krueger could do with Tod's gag writers.
Well, at least we know who Tod Slaughter is! This film is pretty entertaining, although, the main character should have been a bit more mysterious looking instead of a bumbling english bloke. Overall pretty good, though.
Rarely has any movie villain so thoroughly enjoyed being evil as much as Tod Slaughter. Okay, so Bela Lugosi was completely unlikable in DARK EYES OF LONDON (1939) and Lionel Atwill was a consumate badguy in MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) but Tod was evil to the very bone. If you have never seen one of his movies this is the one to start with. It has not been running 3 minutes before Tod kills a man by hammering a wooden spike into his head while he sleeps.
Impersonating his dead victim Tod goes to England for what he hopes will be a rich legacy. It turns out all he has "inherited" is a huge stack of bills and if he wants to avoid debtor's prison he'd better marry a rich wife and fast! Luckily he finds out about a marriage that arranged for him (or the man he is supposed to be) many years ago and not only is the girl rich, she is beautiful to boot! Of course this does not stop him from carrying on with the chambermaid and dodging an old woman who not only claims that he is already married but she is the mother of his child. Tod's problems just never end. Of course he has a way out . . .murder!
Mr. Slaughter has many choice moments in this film. Like when he decides to get rid of the chambermaid because she informs him she is going to have his baby. As he strangles he gleefully says "You wanted to be a bride! So you shall be . . . a bride of Death!" Or when he moves a bedridden patient with pnuemonia close to an open window to insure that she will not recover
("There might be a change by morning!"). Oh yes he eventually gets what's coming to him and be assured that is equally fun to watch.
Okay, that's is my humble opinion. Now order this movie! You'll be glad you did.
Good film based on Wilkie Collins' novel "The Woman in White". Slaughter is evil as usual! This semi-low-budget version of the story has more atmosphere than the later A-budgeted Hollywood version which was entitled after novel! As in all of Tod's films that are available through Alpha, in this one he is just sooooo wicked (check him out in the very first scene set in Australia)! Not exactly like the novel but interesting anyway, though.
- Sales Rank: 4,570
- UPC: 089218455796
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