In honor of the upcoming All Hallow’s Eve, I figure I’d share with you some of my favorite old dark house films.
The Cat and The Canary (1927) Silent version of the oft filmed play by John Willard directed by German expressionst Paul Leni. The story you know – heiress Laura La Plante stands to inherit everything if she can only keep her sanity and stay in the house until dawn. Someone in the house is being very naughty. Visually creepy and wonderfully fun – as much comedy as creepy.
The Old Dark House (1932) Vaguely from Benighted by J.B. Priestly and directed by James Whale, happy little black comedy of a dark and stormy night in a run down house in Wales and served up by Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Massey, Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff as the scary mono-syllabic über-butler.
And Then There Were None (1945) my favorite version of Christies’s Ten Little Indians by brilliant French director Rene Clair and a dream cast Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, Roland Young, Judith Anderson playing a very deadly game. My favorite bit is where they all decide the butler did it and are terribly put out when he decides NOT to serve supper.
The Innocents (1961) based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, it’s one of the few films I have to watch with the lights on, apparently Deborah Kerr’sgoverness is convinced that certain ghosts are imparting some wickedness of some unspecified kind upon her two charges – but it doesn’t really matter, it’s spooky as all get out.
The Haunting (1963) Master director Robert Wise turns Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House into a movie equally as creepy as the book, if not more so. I don’t know why people just don’t burn down haunted houses instead of sending in psychic investigators to ghostbust them, nothing good ever comes from that. Julie Harris and Clair Boom are terrific.
The Legend of Hell House (1973) – Another Lights are on film and a guilty pleasure of mine, Richard Matheson’s book Hell House is probably his scariest. Another haunted house and a handful of paranormal investigators – this time the house doesn’t really play fair and takes Roddy McDowell, Clive Revel and Pamela Franklin on a very very nasty ride.
Yeah it’s a little early for Halloween viewing, but I figured I’d give you enough time to Netflix them.