THE STRANGE DOOR (1951) Reviews and worth watching

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‘Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece of terror!’

The Strange Door is a 1951 American gothic thriller feature film directed by Joseph Pevney (The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: ‘Voodoo Doll’); The Munsters – 11 episodes; Bewitched – 1 episode; Man of a Thousand Faces) from a screenplay by Jerry Sackheim (The Black Castle). The Universal-International production movie stars Charles Laughton, Boris Karloff, Sally Forrest, Richard Wyler, Alan Napier and Michael Pate.

The Strange Door will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber on April 23, 2019. The disc includes a new audio commentary by film historians Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Doctor Robert J. Kiss, plus trailers.


The Sire de Maletroit (Charles Laughton) is an evil French nobleman so obsessed with hatred for his own brother (Paul Cavanagh) that he has imprisoned him in the castle dungeon.

The Sire tries to destroy the life of Cavanagh’s daughter Blanche de Maletroit (Sally Forrest) by forcing her to marry rogue (Richard Stapley), however his nefarious plans are upset when the mismatched couple fall in love.

Aided by Voltan (Boris Karloff), an abused servant, the lovers attempt to escape but the Sire imprisons them in a cell, whose closing walls may mean violent death for these innocent victims…

Sally Forrest as Blanche de Maletroit
Boris Karloff as Voltan
Alan Napier as Count Grassin


“Well-acted by all (including Michael Pate and Alan Napier in supporting roles), though the entire film is pretty much dominated by Laughton whenever he’s on screen. The sets and production design are both good and the cinematography’s decent…” The Bloody Pit of Horror

” …this isn’t one of Laughton’s better performances; some of his moments feel forced, while others feel just strange. Other than that, there’s not much of note here; the horror elements consist of some of the wilder Gothic elements, in particular a scene involving one of those rooms with the moving walls that come together.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

” …you will often hear that Laughton started way over the top and stayed there, where if you watch it you will find this is not the case. This is not the all-out scenery chewing ham of legend, but a slyer personality who seizes his chances to go overboard only rarely here.” The Spinning Image

” …your eyes never wander or get tired as they are always focused upon the stars of the film. Aside from Laughton’s remarkable and over-the-top performance, the movie also has the incomparable Boris Karloff.  His role is short, as he merely supports everyone else, but even in such a small part he is magnetic…” The Telltale Mind

” …it never manages to build a full head of steam, thanks to poorly drawn characters (Blanche might as well be a cardboard cutout), and sloppy pacing. Laughton seems to be having fun, but this is a one man thriller party and no one else has been invited.” The Terror Trap

“The performances are just about all the flick really gives you to hang your hat on though. It doesn’t help that The Strange Door isn’t really a horror movie. It’s more of a gothic melodrama (it was based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson); and it’s a convoluted one at that.” The Video Vacuum

Choice dialogue:

Sire Alain de Maletroit: “If I ever find you up here again, I’ll feed your liver to the swine.”

Sire Alain de Maletroit: “I’m in the mood for relaxation. Let’s visit the dungeons.”

Cast and characters:

  • Charles Laughton … Sire Alain de Maletroit
  • Boris Karloff … Voltan
  • Sally Forrest … Blanche de Maletroit
  • Richard Wyler … Denis de Beaulieu [as Richard Stapley]
  • William Cottrell … Corbeau
  • Alan Napier … Count Grassin
  • Morgan Farley … Renville
  • Paul Cavanagh … Edmond de Maletroit
  • Michael Pate … Talon

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