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The Strange Door

USA 1951
produced by
Ted Richmond for Universal
directed by Joseph Pevney
starring Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest, Richard Wyler (as Richard Stapley), William Cottrell, Alan Napier, Morgan Farley, Paul Cavanagh, Michael Pate, Charles Horvath
screenplay by Jerry Sackheim, based on the story The Sire de Maletroit's Door by Robert Lewis Stevenson, musical director: Joseph Gershenson

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Gambler Dennis De Beaulieu (Richard Wyler) is tricked into killing a man, and when on the run from the mob, he is tricked to hide in a castle ... where he all of a sudden finds himself locked in and confronted with the castle's proprietor de Maletroit (Charles Laughton), who for no reason at all insists that Dennis marries his niece Blanche (Sally Forrest), who against all odds turns out a very pretty and completely virtuous young woman who has no desire to marry Dennis - which is good for Dennis inasmuch as she helps him escape. But when Voltan (Boris Karloff), the only one of the castle's servants Blanche trusts, tells Dennis she is in grave danger, he decides to stick around and marry her after all, just to keep an eye on her ... and wouldn't you know it, after the wedding and a failed escape attempt, Dennis and Blanche really fall in love - much to the dismay of Maletroit, who wanted Dennis to ruin his niece's life.

But why, you may ask ?

Maletroit was in love with Blanche's mother (who is of course her splitting image), but she preferred his brother over him. So he eventually killed her and has since kept Blanche's father (Paul Cavanagh) - with her thinking him dead - locked up in his dungeon, plus he has so far killed every suitor Blanche ever had. Now though that Blanche has married a man she loves, he decides to lock the lovers in with Blanche's father and start the mechanism that moves the cell walls towards each other. Death seems certain for Dennis, Blanche and her father, but Maletroit hasn't taken into account Voltan's loyalty to Blanche, and Voltan, even though already dieing after a run-in with the castle's guards, putsMaletroit out of commission by a carefully thrown dagger and sees to it that he blocks the mechanism that moves the walls with his own body just long enough for him, Voltan, to release Dnnis, Blanche and her dad from their prison ... and into a happy future ...


True, the plot of this period piece is incredibly far-fetched and defies believability, but the film also features Charles Laughton as a decadent nobleman as evil as can be, which is always a joy to watch, and Boris Karloff in a rare good guy role but still great as usual. A competent direction and a script full of macabre details further help to make this film completely watchable and even enjoyable - all despite the contrived story.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD