DVD Review: The Uninvited / Cert: PG / Director: Lewis Allen / Screenplay: Dodie Smith, Frank Partos / Starring: Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, Donald Crisp, Cornelia Otis Skinner, Alan Napier / Release Date: October 29th
Finally available on DVD, this 1944 supernatural classic is often forgotten but highly regarded by those who remember it. Now is a perfect chance to catch the film in a fantastic package.
Siblings Roderick and Pamela (Milland and Hussey) come across a neglected hilltop mansion, Windward House, and manage to purchase it for a knock down price. They soon find the property comes with a number of drawbacks; young Stella Meredith (Gail Russell), the daughter of the previous owner, who is emotionally attached to the property, and a malignant spirit that refuses to rest.
Almost everything about this film is brilliant, from the acting to the sets and the evocative music. Director Lewis Allen manages to raise goosebumps in ways not seen in cinema before and helped set the template for the look of ghostly films to come, some 20 years before the granddaddy of haunted house films, The Haunting. It has a poetic nature and the black and white photography (which was Oscar nominated) is perfect, with plenty of shadows dancing across the scenery and the ghostly effects and sounds can tingle even the sturdiest spine. This is definitely a film that should be in every classic horror fan's collection, and is the epitome of “They don't make them like this anymore.”
This release, from Exposure Cinema, looks great, if not perfect, but is certainly a whole lot better than the previous VHS releases and no doubt the best the film will look without a million dollar restoration. It also includes a nice booklet packed with rare photos and essays on the film, its stars and Hollywood ghost stories in general, which rounds off a really well presented package.
For more information about the film, check out the in depth feature in Starburst issue 375, and in the current (#382) edition's The Fright of Your Life.
Extras: 24 page collector's booklet, stills gallery, trailer, two vintage radio adaptations (1944 and 1949) both starring Ray Milland.