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The Strange Door (1951) - Blu-ray Review

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The Strange Door (1951) - blu-ray

Deception!  Trickery!  And really bad wigs!

There are two reasons why one steps foot through The Strange Door.  They are two BIG reasons, mind you, being the over-the-top performances from Charles Laughton and Boris Karloff, who spends a lot of time crawling across dank surfaces in order to save the day.  Together, these two join forces to sell this gothic melodrama with great finesse while everyone else, is merely adequate. 

"not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but the towering figure of Laughton munching on scenery left and right makes everything A-OK"

And, yes, that includes Batman’s Alan Napier.  They just can’t compare to the sheer volume of scene-gobbling character acting from Laughton, who is always damned impressive, and Karloff, once again returning to the territory of Robert Louis Stevenson.

Just don’t expect to be blown away by this low-budget adventure through a castle with strange corridors and secret passages.  You won’t be; it is the two actors that matter here, selling their roles with a fascinating zeal. 

Because, honestly, we spend way too much time with leads Richard Stapley-Wyler and Sally Forrest as they woo their way through a narrative that has Wyler arriving at a castle where he is expected to marry Forrest . . . and he just killed a man!  Or so he thinks. {googleads}

Yes, that’s how diabolical Laughton as Sire Alain de Maletroit is throughout this carriage chasing, murderous love story of gothic proportions.  He’s out for a revenge as big as round as he is.  And, honestly, that’s why you suffer through this rather pedestrian flick.  Laughton is, once again, highly entertaining, making every single moment he is on the screen so deliciously evil.

The Strange Door is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but the towering figure of Laughton munching on scenery left and right makes everything A-OK.

Oh, the movie, directed by Joseph Pevney (Female on the Beach), has good atmosphere and that torture chamber, where a waterwheel turns to crush all three prisoners, is dripping with mood and mayhem.  Those Gothic scenes, especially in a crisp black and white transfer, have weight to them and they are all compounded by a sense of fury in Laughton’s fiery performance as he arms his medieval château with a number of helpful tools for Voltan (Karloff) to kill those who will not do as Maletroit decrees.The Strange Door (1951) - blu-ray

But what happens when even Voltan refuses to carry out the orders?  Hence, The Strange Door gets opened.

But the film sags when Karloff and Laughton, who disappears for far too long in the second part of the movie, are not on the screen.  We simply don’t care about googly eyed noble men and their silly affairs. 

Kino Lorber Studio Classes presents The Strange Door on blu-ray for this release, its debut.  The release also features a brand-new Audio Commentary by Film Historians Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Dr. Robert J. Kiss.

3/5 beers

The Strange Door (1951) - blu-ray

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
81 mins
: Joseph Pevney
Jerry Sackheim
Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest
: Thriller | Film Noir
Robert Louis Stevenson's masterpiece of TERROR.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I am desolated, Edmund, I cannot invite you to the wedding supper, but I fear a man who has been dead for twenty years might cast a gloom upon the company."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
December 14, 1951
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
April 23, 2019
Synopsis: Screen legends Charles Laughton (Witness for the Prosecution) and Boris Karloff (Black Sabbath) haunt the dungeons of a medieval château in this horrific adaptation of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) story. Laughton, the Sire de Maletroit, is an evil French nobleman, so obsessed with hatred of his own brother (Paul Cavanagh, A Bill of Divorcement) that he imprisons him in the castle dungeon. The Sire also tries to destroy the life of his brother’s daughter (Sally Forrest, Not Wanted) by forcing her to marry a rogue (Richard Stapley, The Girl from Rio), but his plans are upset when they fall in love. Aided by Voltan (Karloff), an abused servant, the lovers attempt to escape, but the Sire imprisons them in a cell with closing walls that may spell violent deaths for the young lovers.


The Strange Door (1951) - blu-ray


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Kino Lorber
Available on Blu-ray
- April 23, 2019
Screen Formats: 1.37:1
: English
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The brand new 2K restoration, handling the crisp B&W photography, is simply gorgeous.  The newly minted 1080p transfer is black and white gloriousness in all its crisp visuals.  Textures are full of life and the details are strong, ringing true in almost every scene.  Black levels are deep and keep their edges in the shadows.  Optical effect shots are clear, with some minor fuzziness, but the edges are usually quite sharp.  The 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack in two-channel mono is adequate for the at-home experience.



  • There is a NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Dr. Robert J. Kiss included with the release.


Special Features:

The blu-ray features trailers of other titles they are handling.

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The Strange Door (1951) - blu-ray

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