[Podcast] The Uninvited (1944) – Episode 18 – Decades of Horror: The Classic Era

“They call them the haunted shores, these stretches of Devonshire and Cornwall and Ireland which rear up against the westward ocean. Mists gather here… and sea fog… and eerie stories…’’ Oooo, that’s some pretty scary stuff! (Channeling a little Second City TV) Join the Decades of Horror: The Classic Era crew – Erin Miskell, Chad Hunt, Joseph Perry, and Jeff Mohr – as we journey to the haunted shores and brave the classic ghost story, The Uninvited (1944).

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 18 – The Uninvited (1944)

The Uninvited is based on Uneasy Freehold, a novel by Dorothy Macardle, and adapted for the screen by Frank Partos and Dodie Smith. It is considered to be the first real ghost story that isn’t predominantly a comedy and includes genuine supernatural elements.

The story follows Pamela Fitzgerald (Ruth Hussey) and her brother Roderick (Ray Milland) as they fall in love with and purchase a house on the haunted shore. It doesn’t take long for strange sounds and manifestations to spook the siblings. They try getting answers from the house’s previous owner Commander Beech (Donald Crisp) and his granddaughter Stella Meredith (Gail Russell) but to no avail.They are then introduced to the enigmatic Miss Holloway (Cornelia Otis Skinner) who only creates more questions without providing any answers. They soon band with the local doctor (Alan Napier) and the three strive to solve the mystery of the house’s haunting. The main cast receives marvelous support from Barbara Everest as Lizzie Flynn, the domestic help; and Dorothy Stickney as Miss Bird, an eccentric resident of an insane asylum.

The film benefits from not only a stellar cast and source material but an equally stellar crew. Director Lewis Allen’s first feature, The Uninvited sports crew that includes Oscar and other award winners such as Charles Lang (cinematographer), Victor Young (music), Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegté (art directors), Edith Head (costume designer), and Farciot Edouart and Gordon Jennings (visual effects).

If you’re paying attention, you’ll find out which of this episode’s Grue Crew made each of these statements:

  • “(She) was the kind of dame that didn’t like film noir.”
  • “It’s like the old Ed Sullivan Show with the plate spinner …”
  • “She’s got the big neon sign.”
  • “Viva la Lucha Libre!”

We plan to release a new episode every other week. The next episode in our very flexible schedule is Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters (1969-70), hosted by Joseph Perry.

Please let us know what you think of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and what films you’d like to hear us cover! We want to hear from you! After all, without you, we’re just four nutjobs talking about the films we love. Send us an email  (chadhunt@gruesomemagazine.com, erinmiskell@gruesomemagazine.com, jeffmohr@gruesomemagazine.com, or josephperry@gruesomemagazine.com) or leave us a message, a review, or a comment at GruesomeMagazine.com, iTunes, Stitcher, the Horror News Radio App, or the Horror News Radio Facebook group.

To each of you from each of us, “Thank you for listening!

Jeff Mohr
Jeff lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an “Old Boy.” Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for Horrornews.net and SQ Horror Magazine and co-hosted the SQ Bloodlines podcast. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is co-host of the Decades of Horror The Classic Era and 1970s podcasts.
  • Oh, it’s definitely time for a rewatch of this one.

    It’s been a good five or six years since I last saw it, and your all’s analysis of the film has me chomping at the bit. My wife and I first came across this movie, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, looking for quality horror films that were creepy and scary but didn’t rely solely on gore and jump scares like so many modern films do.

    I remember on first watching this film really delivered! It actually WAS “a dark and stormy night,” and we were down in the family room with a fire going, watching this thing after the kids were in bed. Loved it! A compelling mystery, genuinely creepy moments–we both had that slight feeling of unease at having to make the trek down a long dark hallway to the bathroom alone after finishing it up. (I guess we could have turned the hall light on, but where’s the fun in that?)

    We sat down to a second watching maybe five or six years ago, but it was during a bright and sunny day with all of life’s livingness gong on around us, and I have to say the watching experience suffered for it, so I get Joseph’s ambivalent response, and his comment that watching a different day might yield a different response. My second watching brought out an appreciation of some of the more technical aspects of the film, but creeped out and scared? Not so much. So I think the missus and I need to make our third go-around after dark, with a big pile of blankets and pillows on the couch.

    I agree this isn’t a straight up horror film, so much as a soap with supernatural overtones. It actually reminds me of the very beginnings of the old Dark Shadows series, before Barnabas Collins and all the more obvious supernatural elements showed up in that series. (It was much less cheesy in it’s beginnings.) Fun stuff.

    And Erin, I’ll enjoy taking a closer look at Miss Holloway on this third watch–enjoyed your comments on her character and and the censors stuff. It’s always fascinated me–classic Hollywood’s gyrations around keeping (attempting to keep) various aspects of real life off the big screen. Same with classic TV.

    Jeff, enjoyed you focus on the film’s behind the camera creatives, that kind of information always brings depth to a film and often gets me itching to rewatch something I’ve seen before, but with new eyes. (Insert unbidden mental image of man turning to reveal someone else’s eyes horrifyingly sewn into his eye sockets here. They just happen, these kinds of images)

    So well done, gang, and a great film choice by Chad.

    Looking forward to Santo next time. I haven’t seen this particular film (haven’t seen any of the Blue Demons actually), but will try to find it and give it a watch before I listen to the podcast. The whole Santo / Lucha Libre world is such an enjoyably bizarre one.

    I think in every single Santos movie I’ve seen there’s some variation on a scene where it’s explained to Santo in grave detail the horrendous life and death matter at stake: “Not only will the heroine and her lover be killed, but an ancient evil will be unleashed to destroy all life upon the world unless you help us, Santo!” Upon which Santo replies with something like “Indeed the situation is dire and I’d love to help, but I have a wrestling match scheduled and I cannot miss it!” At which point we’re treated to ten minutes of in-the-ring action before moving on with the plot.

    That and that funky camera that the professor type uses to focus in on Santo NO MATTER WHERE HE IS OR WHAT HE’S DOING. How does THAT work and why would you want that thing aimed at you? How many times has the professor turned that on when Santo was in the bathroom or worse? Not going to see THAT in the movie.

    I digress (as usual). Great job folks, and looking forward to the future. (Damn, I always sit down to these and say to myself “keep it short this time, Dan, no novels!” Sigh. Apologies for yet another novel in the comment box.