Combustible Celluloid
Own it:
With: Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest, Richard Stapley, William Cottrell, Alan Napier, Morgan Farley, Paul Cavanagh, Michael Pate
Written by: Jerry Sackheim, based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson
Directed by: Joseph Pevney
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 81
Date: 12/08/1951

The Strange Door (1951)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Threshold of Pain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story, The Strange Door looks like a classy horror movie, especially given Boris Karloff's stern-looking mug (clutching a length of chain) on the Blu-ray cover, but it's actually a pretty limp costume movie that never really makes much sense. Charles Laughton stars as the mad Sire Alain de Maletroit (Charles Laughton), who lures a hard-drinking, womanizing, ne'er-do-well, Denis de Beaulieu (Richard Stapley) to his castle. There, he has kept his own, hated brother prisoner in a dungeon and raised his niece Blanche (Sally Forrest) with the knowledge that her father is dead; he intends the rogue Denis to marry Blanche to complete his revenge. But, of course, Denis and Blanche actually do fall in love, and Karloff, who plays a manservant loyal to the imprisoned brother, hatch a plan to save the day. The strange door of the title is one that allows Denis to get in but won't let him back out again. Pretty strange. Director Joseph Pevney can't do much to save this sluggish, nonsensical material, but at least it's not very long. His talents were put to better use on TV; he later worked on shows like the original Star Trek, Wagon Train, The Munsters, The Fugitive, Mission: Impossible, Bonanza, Adam-12, Emergency!; The Incredible Hulk, and Trapper John, M.D.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray comes with a commentary track by historians Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Dr. Robert J. Kiss, and a batch of trailers.

Movies Unlimtied