The black and white ﬁlm contained many well-known and familiar elements of old horror classics, such as spooky shadows, ﬂickering light, and warped facial reﬂections, resulting in a horror which resonates even today.
The scripting of the ﬁlm makes for a hilarious watch, with theatrical acting and more one-liners than a Hollywood action ﬂick. At times the age of the ﬁlm shines through, such as when the word handsome is used to describe a woman. At other times it feels more con-temporary, such as when the phrase ‘gives me the creeps’ is used. The general datedness of some of the language adds more to the ﬁlm’s watch-ability than it does to detract. It most certainly will deliver more laughs than scares, however, this is deﬁnitely welcomed.
The ﬁlm itself is short, running for a little over an hour, how-ever manages to pack a surprisingly dense story line and signiﬁcant character development in, without feeling too rushed. The pace is neither slow nor fast, it is comfortable to watch, yet continuously entertaining.
The Old Dark House (1932) is deﬁnitely worth a watch and could be suggested for people who are not usual horror fans, as it is tame com-pared to modern day ﬁlms. The atmosphere of the ﬁlm is more mystery and suspense, rather than implementing to-day’s common shock and gore tactics. The sheer quality and entertainment value is likely to leave viewers embarrassed that they have not endeavoured to see more ﬁlms of that era.
I would rate The Old Dark House 4 out of 5 stars.
presents a film by James Whale
Produced by Carl Laemmle, Jr.
Written by J. B. Priestley (novel)
R. C. Sherriff
Benn W. Levy
Starring Boris Karloff
Music by David Broekman
Cinematography Arthur Edeson
Edited by Clarence Kolster
Distributed by Universal Pictures
October 20, 1932
This article originally appeared in the Australia Times Film Magazine.