“Only the ghosts in this house are glad we’re here.”
An eccentric millionaire (Vincent Price) and his embittered wife (Carol Ohmart) invite five strangers — a secretary (Carolyn Craig), a pilot (Richard Long), a journalist (Julie Mitchum), a psychiatrist (Alan Marshal), and the owner of a haunted house (Elisha Cook, Jr.) — to spend the night in Cook’s house, promising them each $10,000 if they can last the night.
One of gimmick-meister William Castle’s best-known and loved films was this Old Dark House flick (remade in 1999 and apparently in development as another remake), featuring Emergo — a skeleton “emerged” from the theater and descended upon audiences — and plenty of twists and turns to keep audiences screaming in fright. The storyline, centered around Price’s contentiously bitter arguments with fourth-wife Ohmart, keeps us guessing about who’s up to what, and it’s relatively easy to forgive some egregious lapses in logic (isn’t that what horror films are known for?). Price, Ohmart, and Cook, Jr. are especially well cast, and the other actors acquit themselves nicely.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Atmospheric cinematography
- A number of effectively spooky moments
Yes, for its historical importance as a film that inspired Hitchcock and was beloved by audiences of the day. Listed as a Cult Movie and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.