The Old Dark House (1963)

The Old Dark House (1963) movie poster

director William Castle
viewed: 01/27/2014

Finishing up or simply furthering my little William Castle festival, I watched his 1963 re-make of The Old Dark House (1932).  It’s an oddity in perhaps from a number of perspectives.  It’s a William Castle/Hammer Studio production, two things not exactly akin to one another.  It stars Tom Poston, who I still mostly associate with his later career role on the 1970’s television show Mork & Mindy.   It also features a lot of good English character actors like Robert Morley, Peter Bull, and Joyce Grenfell, not all of whose names may ring bells but their faces and voices would.

It’s not up to the caliber of the James Whale The Old Dark House, but maybe that’s unfair.  It’s lightly goofy but kind of charming.  An American car salesman in London (Poston) gets invited back to the titular abode to deliver a new car to his oddball roommate only to discover a family of kooks who are forced to live in said house in order to be able to have access to its wealth.  Of course, someone starts killing off family members and then it’s a bit of a whodunnit sprinkled with the supernatural, which Castle handles with reasonable aplomb.

I’d suggest that it’s neither deft nor entirely tired.  Poston handles his lead role with good comic timing.  He’s no Jimmy Stewart, though he seems to play a similar type of character that one might imagine Stewart doing.  I’d place it on the better side of mediocre.  It kind of hit a soft spot for me.

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