2 October 2015 | Hey_Sweden
Some mild laughs and chills in this one.
In this second screen version of J.B. Priestleys' book, Tom Poston plays Tom Penderel, an American living in London who makes his living as a car salesman. He shares a flat with Caspar Femm (Peter Bull), who uses the place in the daytime while Tom sleeps there at night. One day Caspar implores Tom to come visit him at the Femm estate, which is up for grabs. Tom is then forced to deal with the wacky Femm family for one every eventful evening.
One would have expected a collaboration between gimmick master William Castle and Britains' legendary Hammer Studios to be more fun. It's more of a comedy than a horror film, and only a fitfully amusing one. There are some funny gags, but it just falls flat a lot of the time. It basically serves to make fun of the entire "old dark house" genre, complete with the expected tropes (like a dark, stormy night). It's decent light entertainment, but is eminently forgettable. It looks great, which is what the viewer expects from Hammer films (a lot of the crew are the usual Hammer suspects). But it doesn't have the level of atmosphere that's really required for most stories of this type.
The likable Poston leads a sterling British cast that helps to keep this version of "The Old Dark House" watchable for 87 minutes. Robert Morley is gun nut Roderick Femm, Janette Scott the striking blonde Cecily, Joyce Grenfell the doddering matriarch Agatha, Mervyn Johns the upbeat Potiphar, Fenella Fielding the slinky Morgana, and Danny Green the hulking, silent Morgan. (If Popeye had been turned into a live action feature in the 60s, Green might have made for a good Bluto.)
This kills time without too much pain, but it's far from grade A Castle *or* Hammer.
Title illustrations by Charles Addams.
Six out of 10.