Today: February 22, 2024

The Old Dark House

Take a group of weary travellers, a spooky mansion, a madman on the loose, a cast made up of some cinema greats, and one of the era’s most notable directors  – and what you get is pure gold. 

Director James Whales (Frankenstein, The Invisible Man) The Old Dark House was arguably one of the best and most entertaining films of the 1930’s. Dripping with atmosphere and packed to the brim with thrills, and chills, it was considered lost for many years, but is now available in a new, stunning 4K restoration. 

Caught in a storm while journeying through a remote region of Wales, a group of travellers take refuge in a sinister mansion inhabited by the bizarre Femm family and their mute butler, Morgan (played by an incredible Boris Karloff). Trying to make the best of a bad situation, the group settles in for the night, but the Femm family have a few skeletons in their closet, and one of them is on the loose… 

As a director, Whale was a restless innovator. While he made his name with Frankenstein, he quickly grew bored with horror. The Old Dark House reflects this, blending both horror tropes with high comedy – think of it as the first ever drama-dy. But what really hits the viewer is Whale’s skill as a director. His approach is deft and theatrical – and there are scenes here (especially Karloff’s entrance) that have made horror movie history.

With an cast including Melvyn Douglas (Hud, Twilight’s Last Gleaming), Gloria Stuart (Titanic) and Charles Laughton (The Hunchback Of Notre Dame) The Masters of Cinema Series is releasing The Old Dark House both in cinemas in the UK & Irelend and in a special Dual Format edition. An exclusive video essay by critic and filmmaker David Cairns, feature length audio commentary by critic & author Kim Newman and Stephen Jones, a feature-length audio commentary by Gloria Stuart and a conversation with Sara Karloff are all included in the extra-rich release which is sure to thrill and fascinate.

The Old Dark House is a class piece of cinema and a must-buy for any self-respecting film-buff.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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