Sunday, October 28, 2007

"HAVE A POTATO." It goes along with today's Halloweenie film: 1932's "THE OLD DARK HOUSE". While this is not the first "old dark house" movie (the genre goes waaaaaaaaay back to the silent films and before on the legitimate stage with "The Bat" and "The Cat and the Canary" etc.), this film is certainly the one that gave the genre it's name. And for good reason. Director James Whale, after first filming Frankenstein for Universal, has a field day with this one. And it looks forward to the high camp humour which he would utilize for "The Bride of Frankenstein" a couple years later.
A group of people find themselves stranded in a storm at the old dark house of the Femm family. The group includes Melvyn Douglas, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart (yes, from Titanic) and Charles Laughton. The Femm Family is a wacky bunch featuring the amazingly camp Ernest Thesiger and their butler: the mute brute Boris Karloff. Thesiger is a hoot all through the movie. For instance, at one point he comes along a vase of flowers and says offhandedly: "My sister was on the point of arranging these flowers." He then takes them and tosses them into the fire. This wickedly funny spook fest is Halloween to a tee. . .and a very nice touch is the fact that the DVD is fortunate enough to have a commentary track by Gloria Stuart herself; not many 30's films on DVD can boast that!

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