1932’s The Old Dark House is one of the greatest of Universal Studios’ original horror series, following quickly on the heels of films such as Frankenstein and Dracula from 1931. However, unlike the more famous monster films, The Old Dark House has never been quite as well known, despite coming from director James Whale (Frankenstein, The Invisible Man) and likewise starring the inimitable Boris Karloff, who of course most famously played Frankenstein’s Monster. Now, however, The Old Dark House is getting its due, thanks to a 4K restoration and DVD/Blu-ray release from Cohen Film Collection. The film’s stark, black-and-white beauty will be available in time for Halloween, on Oct. 24.
Directed by Whale in the period between Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House follows a group of travelers who become stranded in a storm at a spooky-looking mansion in the Welsh countryside, “where they find themselves at the mercy of the strange, and possibly dangerous, Femm family.” Beyond Karloff, the film stars Ernest Thesiger, who memorably appears as the antagonist Dr. Pretorious in Bride of Frankenstein, along with Gloria Stuart, who would eventually play the senior citizen star of James Cameron’s Titanic some 65 years later.
The Old Dark House was so influential to the horror genre that it effectively created a subgenre of the same name: “Old dark house” movies. This includes everything from The Gorilla to House on Haunted Hill, to ‘80s farces such as Clue, which include many of the same elements such as a country mansion, a “dark and stormy night,” and secret passageways discovered by the guests. And now you can own the film that inspired so many others, with a glorious-looking restoration. Check out the trailer below.