The Old Dark House mystery was a popular film genre at low budget studios since the confined action made the production go fast. They’d recycle room sets, populate it with their contract players and let a disguised killer thin out the cast. The audience had fun guessing the real killer or picking out the next victim depending on their rooting interest. At the end of the film, the killer and his treacherous reason is exposed. Dark and Stormy Night doesn’t bring a modern twist inside the spooky mansion. It combines all the traditional twists inside a retro package. Writer-director Larry Blamire uses his love of old cinema to mess with this genre like he’s done with The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and The Lost Skeleton Returns Again. He goes all out to give a severe weather alert for Dark and Stormy Night.
The wealthy Sinas Cavinder has died. Hopeful heirs, business associates, snooping reporters and mysterious strangers arrive at his remote mansion for the reading of the will. These people learn quickly that they’ll be spending quite a bit a time together when the only bridge collapses. The reading of his last will and testament goes well until the attorney announces that he knows of a change Sinas made. Before he can declare anything else, the lights go out. When they come up, there’s a knife in his back. Now everyone is stuck in the creepy old mansion with a murder. The killer wears a mask and robe so he looks like he’s part of a secret brotherhood. The reporters do their best to scoop each other on outing the killer.
The movie features most of Blamire’s repertory group from The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. They’re a well oiled unit at this point as they tap into the spirit of the movie. Two major cult stars heighten the fun. Marvin Kaplan (Alice and Top Cat) gets mystic. What good is poking fun at the genre without having a gorilla roaming through the action? The movie goes for one of the biggest hairy performers with Bob Burns inside the suit. You might recognize him as Tracy the Gorilla from the Saturday morning cult sensation The Ghost Busters. This was the live action series with Larry Storch and Forest Tucker (F Troop). This time around Burns is Kogar the Gorilla.
Dark and Stormy Night is good fun at people who enjoyed seeing the large group of people stuck inside an imposing house. The dialogue sounds lifted from a Monogram script with plenty of nudges to annoying elements. They poke fun of the genre without reducing it to a Scary Movie spoof. The black and white photography adds to the atmosphere. This is a well executed spoof that keeps up the fun and intrigue without dissolving into farce. Grandma will swear she saw Dark and Stormy Night on the Million Dollar Movie.
The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer is a black and white conversion of video. They’ve had a little filter fun to make it look a little bit older. There’s a soft glow to the image. The audio is 2.0 stereo. It sounds like the mono levels of movies from the 1930s without the crackling soundtrack.
Audio Commentary with Larry Blamire, Brian Howe, Jennifer Blaire, Daniel Roebuck, Trish Ceicer, Dan Conroy and Alison Martin. The gang have plenty of tales on recreating the era.
Making Dark and Stormy Night (20:26) shows the care that Larry Blamire took in recreating the atmosphere and characters of low budget trapped in a mansion films. We get tributes paid to Marvin Kaplan (Alice) and Bob Burns.
Gag Reel (8:30) are tons of bloopers and goof offs from the set. This is in color so don’t be shocked.
Never Before Seen Colorized Version (93:10) is a Ted Turner vision of the action. The film works best in black and white.
Dark and Stormy Night is a well done tribute to the Old Dark House movies with dozens of potential victims and suspects lurking in the hallways. The action keeps everyone guessing. The highlight is the return of Bob Burns and his gorilla suit.
Shout! Factory presents Dark and Stormy Night. Directed by: Larry Blamire. Starring: Bob Burns, Larry Blamire and Marvin Kaplan. Running Time: 93 minutes. Released on DVD: August 17, 2010.
About The Author
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.