The Old Dark House
A Middle Aged Movie Blog. Being the periodic journal of a film loving middle aged independent science fiction writing father of two and his ongoing adventures in cinema and home video
Been watching Star Trek: Discovery: Season 2 in lieu of anything else. The first season was good but this second, with the introduction of Ethan Peck, Gregory Peck’s grandson as young Spock and Anson Mount of Hell on Wheels fame as Captain Pike, is a belter. The plotting is strong, the twists are well considered, character arcs are well judged, and the action set pieces are astounding. Already the best Trek in recent memory. Here’s hoping Season 3 can live up to it when it comes out.
Re-watched Cowboys and Aliens (2011) with the boy, a spirited if somewhat tonally uneven hybrid sci-fi/western movie starring a raft of household names, including Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. The movie, Jon Favreau’s post Ironman 2 (2010) effort, remains a valiant attempt to veer off the beaten budget track in search of original thrills and movie wonders. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, Cowboys and Aliens holds up pretty well in retrospect. Though it didn’t wow audiences on its release it is fun enough to warrant a further reappraisal.
Watched James Whale’s Boris Karloff starring, JB Priestley adaptation The Old Dark House (1932) on streaming. Vintage horror fans rejoice as here is an under-appreciated James Whale classic that showcases all of the inimitable stylistic tendencies and comic timing that would make his more celebrated Hollywood outings beloved by all.
Three modern friends motoring somewhere in Wales get lost in a downpour and have to take shelter with strangers. The inhabitants of the house they take shelter in are composed of a motley familial assemblage made up of scary mutes and creepy gin swilling siblings who spout melodrama and mystery as the wind howls and the lightning cracks relentlessly.
The thoroughly modern trio make the best of their enforced surroundings prior to the arrival of a further couple of loud, waterlogged Northern yokels who complete the party before the plot runs amok.
An amusing study in the clash of modern and traditional, masculine and feminine, urban and rural, superstitious and cynical, Whale’s picture works best as a shadowy, angular study in escalating weirdness and societal discomfort. The dialogue is sharp, the film’s social commentary well observed and the performances witty. The film veers dangerously close to the hammy horrors of classic Universal monster era moviemaking, most obviously via Karloff’s Morgan the Mute, a lumbering sex pest with a taste for hard liquor. However, it’s thematic concerns and some nifty sound design prevail. Starring Melvyn Douglas, Gloria Stuart, Charles Laughton, Raymond Massey, and Ernest Thesiger.
Watched Hammer classic The Mummy (1959) with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. True to type, Cushing plays a well-spoken professor-type obsessed with Egyptology whilst Lee plays the raggedy mud-caked monster called up from a bog to cause bloody b movie inflected havoc. The film holds up well, despite low budget set design and expositional mid-section back story padding. The monster is well conceived. Comedy interjections elicit a few sniggers. The music is cranked up to melodramatic ten throughout. Saturated Hammer visuals are as eye popping as you’d expect. Directed by Terence Fisher with a script by Jimmy Sangster.
Smashed my way through Stranger Things Season 3, the pending adolescence years, which was wonderful. It still feels like a protracted homage to Stephen King stories such as The Body and It and it still makes occasional references to 80’s movie classics in jarringly obvious ways. Still, it’s hugely enjoyable stuff. Teen horror done right.
Finished watching the first series of Titans on Netflix. Quite fun. Some filler episodes. Too many good-looking cast members. Good to see Robin featuring in his own show. Some neat horror touches. A bit too much CG blood spatter on display. Unsure of itself tonally on occasion, but for the most part successful and visually engaging. Hopefully get a second season which I anticipate will be better, but it’s worth investing time in if you fancy a TV confection.