This week, we have another really
bizarre interesting old movie to review.
Get ready for Part One of The Old Dark House (1963 version)!
This movie is like The Addams Family, and not just because of the Charles Addams graphic illustrations during the opening credits. Actually, it’s kind of like a cross between The Addams Family and an Agatha Christie novel that’s set in an old mansion. Except it’s a comedy. A horror comedy, which unfortunately isn’t nearly as funny as The Addams Family
or Agatha Christie’s novels.
What is this flick about? Well may you ask! It starts in London where an American car salesman named Tom (played by Tom Poston) is trying to deliver an automobile to the man with whom he shares
an apartment a flat. That man, Casper Femm, begs him to drive the car to this old, dark house in the middle of nowhere. And even though he claims he wants Tom to be there (at the Old Dark House) because he’s scared, when Tom offers him a ride, Casper’s like, “No way, dude. I’m flying a plane there. You’re moving the car.”
Thinking that this is a bit odd, Tom nonetheless makes the trip. Despite pouring rain, he manages to slither the vehicle through a near-swamp created by the rain (which, interestingly, is later revealed to be an actual swamp—and what a delightful story there is behind the decision to build a house there—but I digress). After sufficiently sinking into the muddy bog that serves as a front yard to the Big Old Dark House, Tom hoofs it to the entrance, only to fall down a trap door. At this point, the hapless American car salesman slides down a chute on his butt like James Bond right before he met Tanaka (whose friends call him Tiger) in You Only Live Twice and has serious second thoughts about his career choices.
Oh, and the people in the house? How can I say this nicely? They’re
nutters eccentric and then some. Casper’s family, the Femms, are an odd bunch indeed. Is it because the family name sounds like an all-female band? (The Femms! Live! Appearing at the Hollywood Bowl Wembley Stadium!) Or is it because (as we eventually learn after a few, really weird scenes, including one in which Tom discovers his flatmate/customer Casper is now dead, and some chick named Morgana practically throws herself at Tom, while the pretty blonde girl slyly shyly befriends him), Tom might actually be related to these weirdos.
There’s also this. Tom learns that no one can leave the house for reasons that pertain to (what else?) a will. Roderick Femm, the ostensible patriarch of this
pack of loonies unique clan, says whosoever survives the night returns to the manor before midnight that night shall inherit the place. Since the house is clearly a money pit, Tom is like, “Great! I’m outta here.” But the Femm fam won’t let him go. In fact, Roderick is convinced that Tom’s related through a branch of the family tree that committed treason went colonial.
This is only Part One of Two. More to come! 🙂
Here’s the trailer:
And here’s the whole movie if you want to see it! 🙂