The Old Dark House (1963)

USA, UK, 1962
76m (UK – A rated version), 83m (UK – 18 rated version)/86m
35mm, Technicolor
mono, English

An American/British comedy horror film directed by William Castle.

Plot Summary

Tom Penderel is asked by his flat mate to deliver a car to his ancestral home, Femm Hall on Dartmoor and meets the eccentric Femm family. He soon realises that a vast inheritance has been left to the house itself and the family must remain in the house each night until midnight to claim their share of the fortune. Before long, the bodies are starting to pile up…


* = uncredited

Directed by: William Castle
© MCMLXII [1962] Columbia Pictures Corporation
Columbia Pictures Corporation presents a William Castle – Hammer production
Produced by: William Castle
Associate Producer: Donna Holloway
Production Manager: John Draper
Screenplay by: Robert Dillon
Based on “The Old Dark House” by J.B. Priestley
Assistant Director: Douglas Hermes
Continuity: Pauline Wise [real name: Pauline Harlow]
Director of Photography: Arthur Grant
Camera Operator: Moray Grant
Supervising Editor: James Needs
Labs: Technicolor *
Music Composed and Conducted by: Benjamin Frankel
Sound Recordist: Jock May
Sound Editor: James Groom
RCA Sound Recording
Wardrobe Supervisor: Molly Arbuthnot
Wardrobe Mistress: Rosemary Burrows
Make-Up Artist: Roy Ashton
Hair Stylist: Frieda Steiger
Special Effects: Les Bowie
Drawn by: Charles Addams
Title Backgrounds © Charles Addams
Production Designer: Bernard Robinson
Produced at Bray Studios, England
Locations: The Embankment, London, UK; Oakley Court, England, UK

Tom Poston (Tom Penderel)
Robert Morley (Roderick Femm)
Janette Scott (Cecily Femm)
Joyce Grenfell (Agatha Femm)
Mervyn Johns (Potiphar Femm)
Fenella Fielding (Morgana Femm)
Peter Bull (Casper Femm/Jasper Femm)
Danny Green (Morgan Femm)
John Harvey (club receptionist)
Amy Dalby [woman gambler – uncredited]

Alternative Titles

Das Alte finstere Haus – German title
Il castello maledetto - Italy

See also
The Old Dark House (1932)
Saturday the 14th (1981)


Variety 23 October 1963 p.6
An attempt to approach a spooky suspense melodrama in a humorous vain, “The Old Dark House” succeeds only in neutralizing itself and emerges neither a satisfactory horror entry nor a sufficiently amusing spoof. A capable cast has been assembled for the Anglo-American coproduction, but even such seasoned comedy talents as Tom Poston, Robert Morley and Joyce Grenfell are hard-pressed to deliver scattered moments of mirth out of the uninspired material provided them. […] Poston is a likable leading man with sound instincts for comic reaction. Morley, for the most part, is hemmed in by Dillon’s scenario, which is weak in the area of character development and takes matters for granted that need proper explanation, comedy or no. Miss Grenfell draws the funniest business as an eccentric dowager who knits non-stop by the mile with no material aim in mind. – from a review by Tube

Monthly Film Bulletin vol.33 no.393 (October 1966) p.155
Anyone hoping for something even fractionally as enjoyable as James Whale’s Old Dark House of 1932 will be sadly disappointed. Apart from one or two nicely timed lines by Joyce Grenfell, this comedy-shocker is abysmal, repeat abysmal, from beginning to end. There is really nothing else to be said, except that cuts appear to have removed John Harvey’s role as a “club receptionist”. – from an uncredited review


Castle of Frankenstein no.3 p.4
Castle of Frankenstein no.4 p.5
Castle of Frankenstein no.5 p.6
Castle of Frankenstein no.21 p.37
Daily Cinema no.9260 (24 August 1966) p.8 – review
Film Daily vol.123 no.78 (22 October 1963) p.4 – review
The Hollywood Reporter vol.177 no.31 (22 October 1963) p.3 – review
The House That Hammer Built no.4 (August 1997) pp.176-178 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
Kine Weekly no.3073 (25 August 1966) p.10 – review
Monthly Film Bulletin vol.33 no.393 (October 1966) p.155 – credits, synopsis, review
Motion Picture Herald vol.230 no.11 (30 October 1963) p.923 – review
Variety 23 October 1963 – credits, review

The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.156
The Columbia Checklist: The Feature Films, Cartoons, Serials and Short Subjects of Columbia Pictures, 1922-1988 by Len D. Martin p.244
Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982 by Michael R. Pitts pp.181-183
Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914-2008 by Bruce G. Hallenbeck pp.67-69; 214 – illustrated review; credits
English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.115, 124, 186, 244, 245
Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.328
Ghosts and Angels in Hollywood Films by James Robert Parish pp.260-262 – credits, synopsis, review
Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company by Howard Maxford pp.602-604 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
Kine & TV Year Book 1968 p.116
Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.345 – credits
Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn pp.315-316
Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.171-172

Other sources
British National Film Catalogue vol.3 (1965) – credits, synopsis