Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Old Dark House (1963)

The Old Dark House (1963)
Directed by: William Castle
Written by: Robert Dillion, based on the novel Benighted by J.B Priestly 
Starring: Tom Poston, Robert Morley, Janette Scott

      For me personally the the combination of director William Castle and Hammer studios is a match only too perfect. Castle has personally been a director I have always admired as well felt bad for since his reputation as a B-Movie director prevented him from pursing many personal projects of his later on in his career such as directing "Rosemarys Baby". However though his attempt to remake James Whales 1932 film The Old Dark House for Hammer studios as a horror with a comedic tone (MAJOR emphases on the comedic tone) is a mixed bag, that I sadly find difficult to recommend to people.

     Addressing the issue of how does the remake compare to the original, lets say Castle didn't try to hard to imitate Whales original. The two are hardly alike at all, Whales original film is a fantastic Gothic styled horror film that is moody, suspenseful and spooky all at once. Castles remake on the other hand is a colorful, goofy film with an absurd plot. Which owes much more to screwball comedy than the horror genre. So for those of you reading because you like the original and are not sure weather or not the original is worth your time, my response to you is you are probably going to be a little dissapointed, so unless you`re committed to watching the remake its probably not going to be worth your time. Now for the rest of the people who haven`t seen the original and thus have no standards set for the film for the film, I still have trouble recommending it to you. A major reason is i`m afraid people who haven't seen the original The Old Dark House will be so displeased from watching this movie they wont even bother to watch the original.
     To be fair though for what this film is (horror comedy) it`s not terrible and far from one of Castles worst films (i`d watch this over Strait-Jacket any day). Otherwise its an oddly enduring film that is at least mildly entertaining, when its not awkward and dated. Notably however I have read other critical reactions to this film and to say the least critical reaction to this film has always been largely negative. For example Critic Craig Butler stated " when compared with James Whales original the remake of the Old Dark House is pretty sorry stuff ''. Halliwell`s Film and Video guide 2000 called the film a ''travesty that has nothing to do with the original film and posses no merit of its own''.
 As for the cast Tom Poston is occasionally comical but mostly awkward Only veteran British actors Robert Morley and Peter Bull provide some welcome relief to a otherwise droll cast. Sadly Boris Karloff (who starred in the original film) turned down a role in this film after being displeased with the script. I have no doubt that Karloff`s presence in this film would have undoubtedly raised the quality.
     Overall I personally was mildly entertained by this movie. The Old Dark House was an odd direction for Hammer to go, which helps make the film a curious piece. The Opening animation used in the intro was great and actually one of the films major highlights. Unfortunately otherwise the film fails to amount to much else and as far as remakes go its pretty sub-par material.

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