Arsenic and Old Lace: A Creepy Old Comedy That Still is Hillarious


Here is a good bet for spooky fun – Arsenic and Old Lace (1944, not rated).  Directed by Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life), the entire movie takes place on Halloween night when reluctant groom Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) stops by home to say goodby to his sweet old spinster aunts before going on his honeymoon with girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane).


The problem is Mortimer’s black-sheep brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) comes home the same evening to hide out from the police while he heals from plastic surgery. Boris Karloff, who played many monsters in 1930’s films, played the role on stage, and was wanted for the film version.  As a tribute, every person who meets Jonathan comments that he looks like someone in the horror movies, which further enrages him towards his surgeon (Peter Lorre), who has been in his fair share of horror films himself.


There is also the crazy brother (John Alexander), who thinks he is Theodore Roosevelt and possibly has resorted to murder.


This is a comedy, but spooky in the right ways.  The use of shadows increases the feeling of impending dread without unnecessary gore.

Annex - Massey, Raymond (Arsenic and Old Lace)_02

Will Mortimer find a solution to Teddy’s insane behavior?  Will he survive a night with Jonathon and his doctor? Will his aunts hold another funeral? Will he remember that Elaine is waiting for him?


Give this old movie a try, with it’s older style of acting and stylized lighting, and you will have a fun evening!

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