Small scale schlocky horror film set in a haunted house has Richard Crenna and his family moving into said haunted house and having all sorts of terrible things happening. There is of course a sting in the tail of the film with the reason behind everything that happens being rather cool.
The film is actually one of the last old school films that were made before Friday the Thirteenth and The Nightmare On Elm Street would change forever the notions of what horror is. The film is also rather lo-fi special-effects-wise thanks to being produced before the special effects in Star Wars blew away the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres.
The film concerns psychologist Crenna moving into an old mansion high up in the California hills. He's going to use it as a home and a place he can treat his patients away from prying eyes. It's the sort of place that's been empty for years and which has had terrible things happen in and around it. Once Crenna, his family, friends and former patients begin to fix up the place, bad things begin to happen. At first it all seems like accidents, but we know it's not and soon the cast of characters find out its not either.
This is an unloved and under appreciated film. As I said this film came out at exactly the wrong time to make much traction in the horror community, though there are a few of us, weened on repeated late night cable viewings in the early 1980's, who have formed an attachment to the film. I used to yelp with delight anytime this was on because I loved it so much. It was on enough that I rarely ever watched it on the VHS tape I had because it was always on. Then it became the film falling into the cracks of not being gory enough for the horror crowd of the late 80's and early 90's.
I think this film also confounds some people because it's one of the very few genuine horror films that takes place mostly during the day. Yes they go into dark places and some things happen at night, but much of the film happens during daylight hours. I know in many people's eyes that makes the film less scary, but to me that's one of the reasons that the film is so neat; it messes with your expectations, how can these things happen in daylight? Okay the film doesn't have a truly scary jump out of your pants scene, possibly because of the daylight setting, but at the same time it does have a tension of not really knowing what's going to happen because it's not playing by all the rules.
This is a super little popcorn film that really needs to be rediscovered.
You'll like this. Its not overly bloody and its fun in an EC Comics sort of way.
This is not out on DVD right now however it is coming out on DVD on October 5 as double feature DVD with a film called Twice Dead. The film is part of the Roger Corman Cult Classic Collection.