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The Old Dark House (1932)

TV-G  |   |  Comedy, Horror  |  20 October 1932 (USA)
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Reviews: 104 user | 55 critic

Seeking shelter from a storm, five travelers are in for a bizarre and terrifying night when the stumble upon the Femm family estate.



(from the novel by) (as J.B. Priestly) , (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Sir William Porterhouse
Gladys (as Lillian Bond)
Horace Femm
Eva Moore ...
Rebecca Femm
Philip Waverton
Margaret Waverton
Elspeth Dudgeon ...
Sir Roderick Femm (as John Dudgeon)
Brember Wills ...
Saul Femm


Seeking shelter from a pounding rainstorm in a remote region of Wales, several travellers are admitted to a gloomy, foreboding mansion belonging to the extremely strange Femm family. Trying to make the best of it, the guests must deal with their sepulchral host, Horace Femm and his obsessive, malevolent sister Rebecca. Things get worse as the brutish manservant Morgan gets drunk, runs amuck and releases the long pent-up brother Saul, a psychotic pyromaniac who gleefully tries to destroy the residence by setting it on fire. Written by Doug Sederberg <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Beware the night!


Comedy | Horror


TV-G | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 October 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Casa Sinistra  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In a 1988 interview Gloria Stuart recalled that Boris Karloff ran up and down a flight of stairs to achieve the desired effect of being out of breath. She remarked that she would have just acted out-of-breath. See more »


When the butler falls down the stairs, he's slightly on the side, but when cut to the next scene he's on the floor face down, obvious cut from scene to scene (perhaps for changing the stunt man to the original actor). See more »


Roger Penderel: There's someone outside.
Rebecca Femm: They can't come in!
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the introductory credits there is a 'producer's note' (but it comes before EVERYTHING, including the studio logo, on the version shown by Turner Classic Movies): 'Karloff, the mad butler in this production, is the same Karloff who created the part of the mechanical monster in "Frankenstein". We explain this to settle all disputes in advance, even though such disputes are a tribute to his great versatility.' See more »


Featured in Universal Horror (1998) See more »


Here Comes the Bride
Music by Richard Wagner
Hummed by Melvyn Douglas
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One big happy (crazy) family
26 October 2004 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Tod Browning (Freaks, Dracula), Karl Freund (The Mummy, Mad Love), Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M) and James Whale…. these are the guys that created the fabulous horror genre as we know it. And try to pick the most essential movie from Whale's repertoire! Alongside 'Bride of Frankenstein', this has got to be his finest creation and easily one of the most influential films ever made. The Old Dark House is a gripping mix of suspense and macabre black humor. The story is ridiculously simple and shows 5 people stranded near a remote, sinister house during a storm. There, they encounter the vicious and eccentric Femm family. The butler (played by the legendary Boris Karloff) is a dumb, scar-faced drunk; the lady of the house is deaf and aggressive and her brother speaks with an incomprehensible accent. On top of this, there's a bearded lady in the attic (supposed to be a 102-year-old guy) and a deranged pyromaniac brother locked up in yet another room! It sounds a little like the TCM Sawyer family forty years ahead of time. Whale constantly inserts subtle humor into his film, without actually losing a bit of the sublime Gothic atmosphere. This may well be the very FIRST haunted-house movie and he already makes it some sort of parody.

The Old Dark House is one of the lesser-known classic Universal horror movies, which is quite a shame. It's excellent every way you look at it. At first, it might seem a little slow (especially compared to Whale's equally brilliant 'Frankenstein' and 'The Invisible Man') but that's quickly made up by the utterly unique characters this film features. Classic, efficient horror like they'll never make it anymore.

46 of 53 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Any more like it? Jpebony123
Reminds one that horror can be more than teenage angst films fluffymonk
Where do you get a decent print of this? drzom
Faithful adaptation 16mmRay
I don't think Eva Moore played Rebecca Femm...... mamamk
Morgan Oldphan
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