My Top 20 Scares of 2020: #18

2 movies down and 18 to go until it’s not 2020 anymore! You’re welcome.

So far I’ve extolled the virtues of Idyllic South Korean Sisters and Ben Feldman entering Hell via Parisian caves. For the complete criteria with which I selected my top 20, check out the first post in the series.

Otherwise, feast your eyes on my #18 favorite film of 2020…

#18. THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932)

Haunted House, but make it fashion.

This classic scare has been re-made again and again since the original debuted in 1932, but the OG still slaps. Directed by James Whale and written by Benn W. Levy in collaboration with novelist J. B. Priestley, THE OLD DARK HOUSE is a straightforward tale. A hot couple gets caught in a storm and is forced to take shelter at a creepy mansion, where they meet another couple, the home’s aged brother-sister residents, the brutish manservant (Boris Karloff), and the murderous Secret Brother who is locked in the attic with too much access to fire. Disaster inevitably ensues, but not before the dapper crew has the opportunity to engage in drinking, romance, and shadow-play.

Look at this shadow situation! So random and delightful!

This banger of a talkie is packed with zingers like: “I love the trickle of cold water down my neck. This is one of the happiest moments of my life!” and the oh-so-casual dinner chatter: “She used to cry out to me to kill her; I told her to turn to the Lord. ” It’s charming and funny and only gently spooky. Not only was this one of the most pleasurable horror movies I watched all year, it was possibly one of the most romantic films I watched, period. It’s like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) but with murder and arson. What’s not to like?

How Did It Score
  • How scary was it? 1/5
  • How memorable was it? 5/5
  • Was it a Quality film? 4.5/5
    • Mostly because it was So Pretty.
  • How about those women? 2/5
    • Here is how THE OLD DARK HOUSE scores on each of the gender tests:
      • Bechdel-Wallace Test: Pass. Technically.
      • Sexy Lamp Test: Pass. the old lady is not a sexy lamp. Maybe this is only a partial pass?
      • Willis Test: Fail.
      • Ko Test: Fail.
      • Roxane Gay Test: Fail.
      • Carie-Burns Test: Pass. There are very few actual deaths in this movie.
  • Total points: 12.5/20

What are your favorite ultra-classic scares? Is there a follow-up experience to THE OLD DARK HOUSE I should check out? Or maybe you like one of the remakes better? Tell me about it!

Published by Brandy N. Carie

Playwright. Director. Producer. Dramaturg. I like coffee and Whisky and dogs and talking in person.

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