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This great, spooky, old-fashioned, ‘haunted’ house thriller from the legendary James Whale has a simple plot and a great cast that works together like a charm. Three people (Raymond Massey, Melvyn Douglas and Gloria Stewart) driving through the Welsh countryside, become trapped in a fierce storm and are forced to take refuge in an old stone mansion populated by the very strange and eccentric Femm family. The Femms, Horace (Ernest Thesiger) and sister Rebecca (Eva Moore) reluctantly take them in for the night along with another couple (Charles Laughton and Lillian Bond). But even more frightening then the raging storm outside, is their brutish, mute butler Morgan (Boris Karloff) and Horace’s fear over what might happen should deranged brother Saul (Brember Willis) escape his room during the deluge and resulting power outage. Now the weary travelers have become trapped between the horrific downpour outside and the lurking dangers within the old dark house.

Directed by James Whale (Frankenstein, Bride Of Frankenstein) from a script by R.C. Sherriff, Benn W. Levy and J.B. Priestly…from Priestly’s book…this flick is loaded with atmosphere and the kind of stark mood-building visuals that Whale is famous for and brought to life by Arthur Edeson’s cinematography. There are a lot of chills and thrills, yet not without a sly sense of humor and it all comes in a tight and entertaining 71 minute running time with a wonderfully moody score by Bernhard Kaun. The sets both in and around the castle-like house also add much to the atmosphere as does some expert model work to portray the storm and flooding and the damage it causes.

The film has a stellar cast who all have a good time with their roles including genre greats Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton and Raymond Massey. The cast really help to add atmosphere to the proceedings especially  Thesiger, Moore and Karloff as the main occupants of the house though Willis makes a really creepy Saul, once we meet him and the interesting casting of actress Elspeth Dudgeon as the family’s 102 year old patriarch, Roderick. The rest all give us some very likable characters to fear for once the lights go out and the quaint evening out of the rain becomes a nightmare.

House is a charming and spooky fun time the likes of which they don’t make anymore. A great old black and white movie loaded with atmosphere. The Old Dark House was originally part of the famous Universal horror films series, but Uni sold the rights for an awful remake in the 60s. The film languished in limbo till rescued by fans…including filmmaker Curtis Harrington, a friend of Whales…and released on DVD. One of my all time favorites and there is simply no better film to watch on a stormy night, especially in the Fall when Halloween grows near.

MONSTERZERO NJ EXTRA TRIVIA:  The actress who plays the wife of Massey’s Philip, Gloria Stuart, is the same Gloria Stuart who played Kate Winslet’s character as an old woman in the hit film Titanic!

4 classic Karloffs.

the old dark house rating

I couldn’t find a trailer so this clip will have to do…





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10 Things I learned from this cheesy classic 70s TV horror movie

1) In the 70s, Devil worshippers drove around in fruit trucks dispensing demon possessed pups to unsuspecting children.
2) If your adorable new puppy sets your superstitious Spanish housekeeper on fire by just looking at her, you might have a demon possessed dog.
3) Never repair the lawnmower around a demon possessed dog.
4) Demon possessed dogs like to watch your parents have sex in the neighbor’s pool… don’t ask.
5) With a demon possessed dog around to influence mom, dad’s sex life improves greatly so, maybe he should just overlook the dead neighbor and his kids drawing pictures of Satan and enjoy himself some lovin’.
6) Having a demon possessed dog in the 70s, makes kids behave like they normally do in the present.
7) Demon possessed dogs run in slow motion, are bullet proof and will always find their way home.
8) In their true form, demon possessed dogs look like Phyllis Diller (Google it youngsters!)
9) Asking your Ecuadorian cab driver upfront about what to do about a demon possessed dog can save you a lot of time… and yes, the requires you to go to Ecuador and get a cab.
10) Destroying your demon possessed dog is a lot like a Black Sabbath music video.

Devil Dog: The Hound Of Hell is directed by Curtis Harrington and stars Richard Crenna, Yvette Mimieux, Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated a campy 3 (out of 4) deceptively cute demonic puppies!

devil dog rating