Dark and Stormy Night (2009) Poster

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A hilarious and original spoof of a beloved film genre
scott-clevenger31 May 2009
I've seen writer-director Larry Blamire's three previous comedies (THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA, TRAIL OF THE SCREAMING FOREHEAD, and THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN) each a funny, affectionate and wildly inspired satire of Z-grade sci-fi films from the 50s and 60s. But DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, which I saw in a special screening at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles, goes beyond a simple spoof to a kind of wonderfully weird and wild verbal comedy which, at its best, reminded me of the Paramount-era Marx Brothers.

The film is a giddy bouillabaisse of every Old Dark House picture ever made, from the eponymous "The Old Dark House," to "The Bat Whispers," "Murder in the Blue Room," "Hold That Ghost," "And Then There Were None," and even a few chunks of Lugosi's "The Black Cat" (1934) and "The Ape Man," all stirred together by a loving, but demented hand.

The result is one of Blamire's funniest films, and showcasing some truly inspired performances -- Brian Howe's Colonel Blimp accent and permanent wince, Fay Masterson's alternately weepy and creepy ingénue, Andrew Parks' Noel-Coward-from-Costco character, whose constant epigrams are so circular they hang themselves, and Dan Conroy's straight-from-Central-Casting cabbie whose Brooklyn dialect makes Leo Gorcy sound like Alistaire Cooke. But for me the most pitch-perfect performances were delivered by Dan Roebuck and Jennifer Blaire as the competing reporters 8 O'Clock Farraday and Billy Tuesday. They spat their period gibes and rapid-fire, side-of-the-mouth patter with a wise-guy brio that was not only funny, but which so nicely nailed their beloved B-film archetypes they could've been dropped into any Poverty Row programmer of the period without the audience batting an eye. Both were great, but personally, I've always had a weakness for sharp, fast-talking dame reporters, and Blaire skillfully channeled a combination of Glenda's Farrell's Torchy Blane and Roz Russell's Hildy Johnson that left a smile on my face long after the film was over.

The jokes are non-stop, and yet, like Lost Skeleton, the picture is not only an affectionate spoof, it's a story that holds together and pays off in its own way. Anyone who's ever spent a rainy Saturday afternoon watching old Mascot, Monogram, or PRC programmers on TV will likely adore this movie.

Basically, it's a hilarious flick with a shocking twist ending; like THE CRYING GAME, but with less foreskin. And how often can you say that?
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Salute to 1930s Mystery
Tommy-511 July 2011
"The reading of the will, on a dark and stormy night!" so the song goes. This is one of the many fun things in this B offering from Larry Blamire, he of Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and Return of the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra fame. It's a nice little spoof of the 1930s mystery-in-an-old-dark-house genre. It also appears to be hiding in plain sight but is, happily, available on DVD.

Mr. Blamire is interviewed by John Skerchock in Scary Monsters issue no. 79 and the subject is Dark and Stormy Night. I encourage you to find a copy and read.

This is a charming little film, my favorite of the Blamire productions. The performers seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves as we wait anxiously for the resolution to the mystery which is straight out of the 1930s. We have the rich man's will, a gloomy mansion, a couple of goofy reporters and a dysfunctional family full of cheats with at least one of them a sadistic murderer. Of course, they are banded together in a house they cannot leave because of a washed out bridge. This is a great spoof and tribute to the "Old Dark House" genre and is very enjoyable. View it with a cold drink on a lazy summer afternoon or with hot chocolate on a cold winter night. It would be best, of course, if the weather is dark and stormy with heavy rain pounding your windows.

The bonus features on the DVD are great. You may view the film in color or black and white and the behind the scenes production is fantastic. There is also a gag reel and audio commentary by Mr. Blamire and members of the cast. Don't expect a classic, that's not what B films are about, but don't miss this one!
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Admirable and respectable parody
Coventry11 January 2011
"Dark and Stormy Night" is my second encounter with the work of writer/director Larry Blamire; following "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra". Both films establish the same fact, namely that Blamire is a devoted and fanatically enthusiast fan of old-fashioned cheap and cheesy B-movies. "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" was the ultimate tribute to nonsensical Sci-Fi movies from the 1950's and 60's, complete with all the clichéd story lines and campy alien monster designs you could ever imagine, whereas this "Dark and Stormy Night" is a parody of all those typical old dark house movies and Agatha Christie mysteries. In good old "And then there were none…" tradition, a whole bunch of seemingly unrelated individuals arrive at a creepy isolated estate during a … well, dark and stormy night! The estate belonged to the rich but recently deceased Sinas Cavinder and everyone there gathered for the reading of his will. Moments before a giant revelation, however, the lights go out and lots of turmoil can be heard. When the lights are back on, the attorney has been stabbed to death and the invitees have to figure out the secret of the testament, knowing one of the group is a murderer. The rest of the night is filled with assassination attempts, dark corridors and secret passages, random gorilla encounters and a competitive battle between two freelance journalists. Personally, I think it's truly praiseworthy how Larry Blamire exclusively wants to bring comedy through substantial jokes, stereotypical characterizations and subtle references towards old movies. There are numerous spoofs and parodies being made nowadays, but they always revert to crude and vulgar sex jokes. "Dark and Stormy Night" doesn't feature any infantile humor like that. You won't hear me claim that all gags and references are successful and laugh-out-loud hilarious (far from it…), but at least the nature of the jokes never becomes embarrassing. The acting performances are decent, especially Larry Blamire himself who portrays one of the invitees in a deliberately wooden and amateurish fashion. There are some nice decors and the man in the gorilla suit is a delightful detail, seeing so many of those old haunted house movies had a gorilla locked up in the basement.
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Blamire's Best
Scott_Mercer30 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I am a big fan of Blamire's oeuvre. And his hors d' oeuvres. But his cooking skills aside, let me tell you why all the other people that thought this movie was meh were WRONG.

1) Characterization. Blamire and his now expanded stock company have much more juicy roles to chew on here. The roles in his original, Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, are rather flat and lifeless, but this, of course, is on purpose. Paul Armstrong is about as affectless and monotone as you can get, and Betty is as laid back and submissive of a Fifties Femme as you could ever dread running across (she makes Betty Draper/Francis on "Mad Men" seem like Wendy O. Williams...the late punk rocker chick, not the TV talk show host).

Likewise, Ranger Brad is supposed to be portrayed by an actual park ranger that was recruited into the film. Roger Fleming is the only character that is allowed to overact, apart from the malapropisms and social awkwardness of Kro-Bar and Lattis. Animala says about two words. Don't get me wrong, Jennifer Blaire plays the part quite well, including her forbidden animal dance. Ironically, one of the most vital characters is actually DEAD. (That would be the titular skeleton.)

But here in Dark and Stormy Night, we are treated to a truckload of familiar characters, with each one given their very own chunk of drywall to masticate. Let us first consider the case of Jennifer Blaire. In the (arguably) female protagonist role (she is arguably the protagonist, there is no arguing she is female) of Billie Tuesday, she says more in her first sentence of dialog than Animala did in both movies she was in. About the only character purposefully underplaying it is Larry Blamire as Ray Vestinghaus, and perhaps Jeens the butler. Everyone else heaves, cries, howls, shouts, screams and emotes almost as loudly as the constant thunder cracks punctuating every plot point. (This is a good thing...supposed to be a funny movie, remember?)

2)Dialog. LSOC and LSRA were taking on the cracked syntax of 50's zero budget sci-fi, via Ed Wood, Richard Cunha and Jerry Warren. Dialog was loaded with "high tech" buzzwords, and purposefully made to sound obscure to the audience. Here, Blamire is tackling the 1940's Poverty Row horror/mystery. In those films, all they had to keep the audiences' interest were snappy dialog and guys in gorilla suits. Dialog in DSN encompasses several 1930's/1940's movie stereotypes. You've got the pip-pip-cheerio mock posh (mosh?) Britishisms of Burling Famish, Lord Partfine and Sabasha Fanmoore, you've got Mark Redfield's Lionel Barrymore take as Farper Twyly, the snappy 40's patois of reporters Billie Tuesday and 8'O Clock Farraday (I guess their honeymoon night must take place at 8 O'Clock on a Tuesday. Thank you! Try the veal!), and the perfect New Yawk speak of Dan Conroy's wayward cab driver, seemingly a refugee who wandered over from the next soundstage where a Bowery Boys movie was being filmed. ("I just want my turty five cents!") All these stereotypes required extra dialog that had to be written and re-written, not the stunted and blunted phraseology of Dr. Paul Armstrong who can't get any more specific than "real advances in the field of science."

3) Action. In spite of the action all taking place in a confined space, I would submit to you that there is more action here than there is in LSOC. (The Lost Skeleton Returns Again is a different story (no, literally, it is a different story) since that takes place during a jungle safari.) In DSN, people are moving, moving, moving. Maybe moving through the same hallway over and over, but moving nonetheless. Also, there are more characters and plot threads to keep cutting between. Which brings me to...

4)Plot. The plot here is more complex. More characters, more motivations. More bad guys. There's the hooded strangler, the escaped lunatic, the deranged witch, the unwanted ghosts, the possible killers for the sake of greed. Every possible base in the "creepy haunted house" genre is covered, and covered well. The storm, the washed out bridge, the reading of the will, the locked room murders, the secret passageways, the hooded strangler, the ghost, the retarded half-human offspring locked in the attic.

5) Funnier jokes. Yes, LSOC is funny. But damn it, the whole "Have I The Letter?" bit had me ROLLING. And don't even get me started on "It says "You Will Be Next." This is comic gold, people. Worthy of Abbott and Costello at least, or maybe even Monty Python. And that's high praise indeed in my book. Or letter.

I could go on about this at further length. In fact, I will in my upcoming scholarly tome, "Have You The Letter?: The Films of Larry Blamire," due in textbook stores imminently. Look out for it!

LSOC gets a 7. LSRA gets a 7. Dark and Stormy Night gets an 8. Have NOT seen the forehead movie yet, so I will have to wait on that one. Looking forward to anything else Larry does.
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Fun in a group
leftonya19 May 2011
As a fan of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and its sequel as well as Tales from the Pub, I also enjoyed this movie. I will say that all these movies are funnier in direct portion to the number of people watching at once. By yourself it is not that funny, but for some reason when you get about a dozen people or more together to watch, it is the funniest movie you ever say and you will laugh so hard you cannot breathe. If you saw it by yourself or with one other person and din't find it that funny - do yourself a favor and watch it with a group and don't give them any info about it other than you will enjoy it.

I have watched a few movies and plays and even read old books of the murder mystery at a mansion variety, and I think this is a good send off to it. The characters are larger than life and ridiculously overacted even as caricatures of the archetypes, except a couple of reporters who actually have a good repertoire and are believable as examples of the old archetypes of 40s and 50s reporters. If you can't stand overly-characterized acting, you will get annoyed at anyone besides these two characters, but try to not be overly critical and just enjoy it.
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The Lost Skeleton's brilliant director and cast return again!
Pipesofpeace5 April 2011
Writer-director Larry Blamire has a very distinctive comedic talent - genius, really - for spoofing movie genres not by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink (a la the great AIRPLANE!, the mediocre SCARY MOVIE, or the awful DATE MOVIE) but by recreating those movies, and all their endearingly dated conventions, in a manner so precise you could have a hard time telling them from the real deal. THE LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA was a dead-on parody of grade-Z Ed Woodian sci-fi, and one of the funniest movies of recent years. THE LOST SKELETON RETURNS AGAIN added cheesy jungle adventures into the mix. And this wonderful picture, DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, heads into an entirely new direction for Blamire: 1930's and 40's murder mysteries (a la THE OLD DARK HOUSE, THE CAT AND THE CANARY, and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE) that were inevitably set in a spooky old mansion on a rain-soaked night where a motley assortment of characters are gathered for the reading of a will. Most of Blamire's brilliant cast of players from the two SKELTON movies (as well as the hilarious web series TALES FROM THE PUB) return, and they are deliciously in tune with each other and with Blamire's unique comedic sensibilities. Jennifer Blaire (aka Mrs. Larry Blamire) is particularly at home with the stylized, lightning-paced wisecracking written for her reporter character; in another era, Blaire could have been another Jean Arthur or Rosalind Russell. If you loved LOST SKELETON OF CADAVRA, if you're a fan of old movies, or you're just looking for 90 minutes of clever, rib-tickling fun, this one is a must.
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Dark and Stormy Night is a refreshing awesome movie
scareshock-117 August 2009
I don't know about you, but I've become bored with the big budget Hollyweird movies that promise everything and deliver nothing. DARK AND STORMY NIGHT was such a refreshing change. I caught the movie at a premiere and laughed throughout. The acting was first rate. The sets were very well done, and the story never failed to deliver. Every time you thought Larry Blamire had packed all that he could into the movie, he surprises you by adding more.

Bob Burns as Kogar was genius. Daniel Roebuck as the intrepid reporter hit the mark. Mark Refield as the diabolical attorney was fantastic.

If this movie doesn't give you loads of belly laughs then you must be dead. Hollywood could take a lesson or two from Larry Blamire.
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Dark and Stormy Night
leaderdesslok20009 July 2009
Larry Blamire does it again with a film that not only pays homage to the great dark house films of yesteryear, but is able to stand on its own as a truly great and original film. The premise is all so familiar, but this take on it is surprisingly fresh.

The film is the first from Bantam Street to be shot in HD, and it really is beautiful to watch. The mansion miniature is amazing and the costumes are all perfectly done. The cast is made of Bantam Street regulars like Brian Howe and Jeniffer Blaire, all of whom really bring their A-game and do a great job of bringing the stock "dark house" characters to life and of course adding a totally different dimension of fun to them by following Blamire's unique style of direction.

If you like old dark house movies, you'll love this. If you like mystery thrillers, you'll love this. If you like to laugh, you'll love this. "Dark and Stormy Night" is great fun for audiences of all ages, and is one movie you definitely don't want to pass up!
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Not his best work, but passable.
DarthPaul8525 May 2010
I'm a big fan of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra. This movie definitely falls short of that one, at least on the first viewing, but still has its charm.

If you're unfamiliar with Larry Blamire's work, this film is a "tribute" to those classic 1940's murder mysteries. As with Skeleton, it's definitely a comedy, but not a full-blown parody film. The film is funny (arguably) because it's a bad 1940's movie, not because it's full of jokes. However, there are jokes there too.

The film succeeds in nailing a few stereotypes from the era. Some of the characters are very fun to watch (the high class British guy, the jungle guy, and the cook are among my favorites). Blamire also throws in some great jokes and a couple spoofs on movie conventions.

Unfortunately, this film doesn't work nearly as well as his other movies. First off, the genre isn't played with enough. Just because the murder mystery clichés are exposed doesn't mean they're funny. A prime example of this is the dialogue. Often the dialogue is clichéd, but not unbelievable. Unfortunately, it's done *just* serious enough to not be funny or clever. We're left feeling like there's nothing intentionally funny going on.

Blamire is clearly walking a thin line here: he's trying to make the film believable for the time AND funny for being of that time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls flat.

Another of the film's shortcomings is inconsistent characterization. Some of the characters are great, but a few are weak, annoying, or simply feel tacked-on (and not for the sake of being tacked-on).

Ultimately, this film falls short of both Lost Skeleton and its sequel. There are definite laughs to be had, and I suspect a second viewing will provide some new laughs, but overall this film feels lost between dedication to the genre and making fun of it.
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Another fine genre tribute and parody by the Blamire troupe
lemon_magic23 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Blamire's created an interesting niche for himself - a talented and professional filmmaker who successfully makes good movies that pretend to be bad movies. "Dark And Stormy Night" is another of his affectionate and genuinely funny tributes to a staple of the late night Saturday movie - this time instead of Science Fiction or Jungle Safari, he takes on the "Old Dark House" shtick with enjoyable results.

It could be that the novelty of his approach is wearing off for me, because I thought this movie wasn't quite as sharp as the "Lost Skeleton" movies. The plot was just a bit over complicated, the sets were maybe a bit more enclosed and static, and the movie itself was maybe a bit too long. Or maybe the gruesome murders took away some of the light-as-air vibration of the "Skeleton" movies, no matter how humorously they were staged.(Characters barely got their hairstyles mussed in the Skeleton movies as I recall.)

Still, there's a wealth of quirky performances (for instance, "Trufin Newbin" is back as the world's most boring pants-obsessed raconteur), some excellent Abbot-and-Costello style word play, some fine sight gags and some physical comedy bits that all arise naturally out of the situation and the environment. And there's not a raunchy, quasi-topical "Scary Movie" style sex-and-fecal matter joke in the whole thing - it's as if Blamire not only avoided this kind of humor, he wasn't even aware it exists. I'm not offended by modern raunchy movie humor, but I liked this naive feeling a lot.

If the idea of seeing an Ed Wood tribute movie that's actually as intentionally funny as Ed's output was unintentionally funny...you should check Blamire out, and if you can't find the "Lost Skeleton" movies first, by all means see this one.
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I Just Want My Thoity-Five Cents.
Bilko-330 August 2010
Okay... "Dark and Stormy Night" is my new favorite movie. It's written and directed by Larry Blamire ("Lost Skeleton of Cadavra", "Trail of the Screaming Forehead") and it's a satire of Old Dark House horror movies. This movie is ten times funnier than "Murder By Death". I loved the movie version of "Clue" (sue me). This is better. I can't even begin to count the strange quotes you're going to be getting from me. The dialogue is rapid-fire and brilliantly off-the-wall. There is a love of and dexterity with language and a dearth of fart jokes.

It has the goddess Jennifer Blaire (Animala in "Lost Skeleton") as wise-cracking reporter Billy Tuesday. As far as I'm concerned, she's right up there with the goddess Jane Lynch.

This also has the goddess Fay Masterson (Betty in "Lost Skeleton") as a British ingénue so helpless she can't sit in a chair on her own and the amazing goddess Susan McConnell (Lattis in "Lost Skeleton") as a mad Scotswoman with the greatest heavily-accented vituperation this side of John Cleese as the French guard in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail".

If you like the Christopher Guest style of ensemble casting, you're going to love this movie. Andrew Parks (Kro-Bar in "Lost Skeleton") is the standard issue tuxedoed British fop. His mom, Betty Garrett (from "Laverne & Shirley") pops in and out of the story with her gorilla (Bob Burns. If you've ever seen a gorilla in a 1960s sitcom, it was Bob Burns.) Jim Beaver (Ellsworth on "Deadwood") is great as the deceased millionaire's safari guide ("Some of the toughest four days I've ever spent.") Actually, there isn't anybody in this movie who couldn't be singled out – which of course is what you're shooting for with an ensemble.

I completely love Larry Blamire. In a Non-Threatening, Manly American sort of way, I mean. I watched the film again with the commentary track on. His frame of reference is so like mine, it's frightening. Who else bases a character on William Demarest in "All Through the Night" (a Bogart comedy that flopped because it was marketed as an action film)?

This is a movie for anyone who ever wished the "Carol Burnett Show" had hired the writers from "Your Show of Shows".


"I'd LIKE a ducky."

"Hi everybody my name's Ray Vestinhaus – a stranger – and my car just happened to break down just outside, can I stay for the reading of the will? (BEAT) Oop."

"I am Dr. von Vandervon. Dr. Van von Vandervon."

"Let the puppy go!" – "Come to Nana!" "Let the puppy GO!" – "Come to NANA!" "LET THE PUPPY GO!" – "COME TO NANA!"

"Let us leave this room of death and mounted heads who once were friends."
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Not a movie
jt19991 June 2009
This is not a movie. It might be a Groundlings Theater exercise. Or a practice for an SNL sketch. Or a junior high school play. But whatever it is, this ain't a film, no way, no how.

Doing a spoof of an old movie requires a certain belief in the genre, an understanding and respect for the source material. It also, and perhaps most importantly, means having actors who believe in what they're doing, believably inhabiting the characters they're portraying and the universe in which the story is set.

There is not a single moment in "Dark and Stormy Night" where anybody watching this misfire will ever mistake the caricatures and cartoon figures presented here for real people... or even real movie characters. The acting is all of the overblown, wink-wink, nudge-nudge variety, as if presented on stage and pandering to the audience's reactions.

Shooting on HD and converting to black and white is also no substitute for the rich 35mm film look of the movies this is supposed to satirize.

"Mad" magazine used to do hilarious movie and television spoofs, and they always worked - for the simple reason that the characters believed what they were doing, interacting in their own peculiar universes and never alluding to the fact that it was all a sendup. Mel Brooks knows this. So does Carl Reiner... and Woody Allwn... and whoever wrote "Austin Powers."

This is exactly why "Stormy Night" does not work: every single second, we're acutely aware the actors are doing a sendup... as if they're constantly trying to TELL us it's all a big joke. It's like comedians laughing at their own jokes.

That, of course, never works. And neither does this.
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Another striking recreation and parody
CubsandCulture10 July 2019
Blamire's Lost Skeleton film is one of my all time favorite films. So on a lark I decided to pick this other film up. I am so glad I did. I think Lost Skeleton is probably the more interesting work-there is a rawness to it that makes it feel found not made that fits the parody-but Dark and Stormy Night is wonderfully realized. It is as funny and delightfully kooky as Lost Skeleton. It is again utterly captures the essence of genre it is riffing on-in this case the old dark house mystery of the 30's. Best the film is more technically polished, with a livelier shooting style and a more sure footed screenplay. Lost Skeleton is utterly in the mode of the genre it is riffing on but it is hard to tell how much of the humor is intentional. Here everything in Dark and Stormy feels much more thought out and structured. Really this is good film. It is not the sublime awfulness of Lost Skeleton but it is the more accessible work and more easily enjoyed.
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Hilariously brilliant spoof!
Darth_Osmosis6 June 2018
This is such a great re-creation of old b-movies that it's like watching MST3K, but the movie is so cheesy it has become self-aware and it's riffing itself! Everything is just perfect from the extremely convenient lightning strikes and weather altogether, to the mansion with it's secret paths(of course), suspicious paintings and dark hallways. The cast of characters are all the usual stereotypes in a movie like this, but cranked up to eleven! If you love b-movies, MST3K, Rifftrax or just funny movies you owe it to yourself to give this a chance! If you like it, check out other movies by Larry Blamire as well!
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Its dark heart is in the right place
Mr-Fusion9 November 2016
It's not my favorite of Larry Blamire's output (just doesn't reach the heights of the Lost Skeleton" movies), but "Dark and Stormy Night" deserves credit for its loving homage to old-timey dark house movies. Varied cast of characters converge on a mansion for a reading of the will, people start dropping dead, you get the picture. Ensuing hijinks and all that. Except Agatha Christie was never so deranged. And she never had a gorilla showing up outta nowhere.

The movie gets to a point when new characters keep showing up, but it settles into a narrative rut. And with dialogue this crackling, it's kind of a shame the pacing doesn't match. But that's not the end of the world; the miniatures are delightfully cheap, the non-sequiturs are funny, and it's worth a look almost entirely for the breakneck repartee.

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fails to achieve the heights of the Cadavra films
cherold7 January 2014
There's some really good stuff in the Old Dark House parody Dark and Stormy Night. A fortune teller is wonderfully strange and funny, a cab driver beautifully captures the cadences of a '30s actor, director Blamire does a pitch perfect impression of a terrible actor, and the movie really captures the look of its inspiration.

Unfortunately, it's not nearly as funny as the two Skeleton of Cadavra films.

I think a lot of the problem is that the Old Dark House genre was generally comedic; the movie the genre was named after was a comedy. The movies feature wise cracking reporters and detectives, offbeat characters, inane plot twists, in-jokes (in one, a character asks Basil Rathbone his opinion on what's going on and he replies "who do you think I am, Sherlock Holmes?), and purposefully broad performances. The Cadavra movies parodied humorless incompetence, but how do you parody something that is already funny?

The result is a movie pretty close to the movies it's a take-off of, and I think the director might have been better off simply attempting to create a real ODH movie rather than a mock-up.

Since it's hard to parody comedy, the movie drifts, even further than Blamire's previous films, into absurdist theater, and the movie is best and funniest when it throws non-sequitors at the audience with like darts.

Dark and Stormy Night is funny, and Blamire's usual cast gives their usual fine performances (Blamire's wife does an excellent job as a wise- cracking reporter), but this is not Blamire's best.
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