Alongside The Bride of Frankenstein, Whale's greatest film, a masterly mixture of macabre humour and effectively gripping suspense. A very simple story - a group of travellers stranded by a storm take shelter in the sinister, unwelcoming Femm household, a gloomy mansion peopled by maniacs and murderers - allows Whale to concentrate on quirky characters (Laughton's brash, boorish Yorkshire mill-owner, blessed with a near-incomprehensible accent, is particularly delightful) and thick Gothic atmosphere to stunning effect. But what is perhaps most remarkable is the way Whale manages to parody the conventions of the dark house horror genre as he creates them, in which respect the film remains entirely modern. (Frm JB Priestley's novel Benighted.
Cast and crew
Benn W Levy, RC Sherriff