31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 15: The Old Dark House (1932)

the old dark house 1932 boris karloff

Classic horror time! And it doesn’t get any more classic than the legendary KARLOFF (yes, it has to be in CAPS), who plays a grim, mute, alcoholic butler in The Old Dark House.

the old dark house 1932 boris karloff

I suppose you would be grim too, if you had to deal with a pack of boorish twatsicles who disturb your peaceful evening on account of their being stranded during a storm. And yet he can’t say anything even if he wanted to flout the rules of the house to do so. It’s probably why he drinks.

the old dark house 1932 boris karloff

The aforementioned twatsicles arrive at this mansion in bursts (not all of them know each other), though the house’s owner, Horace Femm (Ernest Thesinger) has a personality so gloomy I might co-opt it and deploy it as a social weapon against similar asstwattery. Throw in Horace’s half-deaf, Jesus-freak sister Rebecca (Eva Moore), and the delightfully pyromaniac, Lowood-style, shut-in brother Saul (Brember Willis) and you’ve got a recipe for a gleefully comic yet genuinely tense gothic horror.

the old dark house 1932 boris karloff

I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to root for the travellers, since they remind me of the some types of people I have to interact with in and around my place of work. And where I live. In fact, I’m choosing to take the entire movie as a prophetic allegory of gentrification (no, not that cereal cafe shit – I mean actual, damaging, rich asshole developers and councils pushing middle and lower classes out of areas they helped build up to be desirable) and the increasingly manufactured London city skyline. Especially Canary Fucking Wharf. Forget JG Ballard’s High Rise; this is the movie to trump all corporate-cautionary tales.

the old dark house 1932 boris karloff

It’s written by JG Priestley, anyway, which (if your schooling was anything like mine and you not only read but were taken to see a production of An Inspector Calls) tells you that the eloquent swathes of dialogue will be dripping with some pretty biting social commentary and some satire on class differences, as well as some overaching weirdness, and then something really fucked-up at the end (or the beginning). And probably a heap of damaged furniture.

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