Release date30 October 1963 (U.S.)
16 September 1966 (UK) WriterRobert Dillon (screenplay), J.B. Priestley (book) CastTom Poston (Tom Penderel), Robert Morley (Roderick Femm), Janette Scott (Cecily Femm), Joyce Grenfell (Agatha Femm), Mervyn Johns (Petiphar Femm), Fenella Fielding (Morgana Femm) Similar moviesDark Shadows, The Manchurian Candidate, Adaptation., Cat People, We're No Angels, Don't Go in the House
TaglineREADY! SET! LAUGH! Join the fun in a nut-house of terror!
The old dark house 1962 trailer
The Old Dark House is a 1963 comedy-horror film directed by William Castle. It is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name directed by James Whale. The film was based on the novel by J. B. Priestley originally published under the name Benighted, and the new screenplay was written by Robert Dillon.
Tom Penderel, an American car salesman in London, delivers a car to an old mansion in Dartmoor and discovers that his eccentric former roommate, Casper Femm, is dead. The car is damaged by a falling statue in a raging storm, and Tom is invited to stay at the house by members of Casper's family, including his twin brother Jasper, his nieces, the demure young Cecily and the seductive Morgana, and his Uncle Potiphar, who has been building an ark in anticipation of another great flood.
Each of the relatives is required to return to the dilapidated mansion before midnight each evening or forfeit his share of the family fortune. During the night, one of the Femm family dies every hour. First Agatha Femm, Casper's mother, is discovered with her knitting needles stuck in her throat. Casper's twin brother, Jasper, is the next victim, followed by Roderick, the head of the family.
Tom stumbles upon the fact that the killer is a woman, and he suspects Morgana, but discovers that Cecily is guilty just before she confesses, explaining that she wanted the entire family estate. Cecily runs from the house, and Tom discovers that she has placed time bombs in all of the clocks in the house. Racing against time, he frantically defuses each of the bombs. With moments to spare, he hurls the last bomb out of the window, and it explodes at Cecily's feet.
Tom Poston as Tom Penderel
Robert Morley as Roderick Femm
Janette Scott as Cecily Femm
Joyce Grenfell as Agatha Femm
Mervyn Johns as Potiphar Femm
Fenella Fielding as Morgana Femm
Peter Bull as Caspar/Jasper Femm
Danny Green as Morgan Femm
John Harvey as Club Receptionist
Amy Dalby as Gambler (uncredited)
The remake has not been as well received by modern critics as the original film. Craig Butler of the film database Allmovie wrote of the 1963 film, that "When compared with the James Whale original upon which it is based, this remake of The Old Dark House is pretty sorry stuff." Halliwell's Film and Video Guide 2000 describes this film as "a travesty which has nothing to do with the 1932 film and possesses no merit of its own. The cast is left floundering". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films called it "one of the oddest pictures [Hammer Film Productions] ever made", but "strangely endearing."
In the US, the film was originally released by Sony Pictures on an anamorphic 1.85 aspect ratio DVD, with the only extra being the original theatrical trailer. It was later paired on disc with Mr. Sardonicus and included in two separate William Castle box sets. The original disc was later reissued as a DVD-R burn-on demand release from Sony Pictures Choice Collection. The film has also been released on DVD in Spain, retitled La vieja casa oscura, both separately and as part of a William Castle box set.