Saturday, April 25, 2015

House Call: House of the Damned (1963)

Well, it is two-thirds of a really interesting movie.  Close but no cigar!  Today's Film is House of the Damned, a 1963 Film about a pretty familiar topic.  In this Story, a Couple is called in to check out a house before it is going to be put back on the market.  Naturally, this house is up in the mountains, has no phone and is not empty.  Haunted House hat trick!  What will happen?  Well, you get mysteriously-opening doors, ominous shadows, creaking floors- all the usual.  There is an interesting twist to this one and it has some really good moments.  The problem comes in the overall execution and...well, you'll see.  To find out why the life of an Architect is hard if you aren't Brad Pitt, read on...
After getting a late night call for a job, an Architect and his wife drive out to the remote estate.

Just to note: the Shots of them driving the Car on a dirt road look very similar to those in Night of the Living Dead, but this came out 5 years earlier.
They explore the house and find out from the Realtor that it was owned by a crazy, old lady.  What could go wrong, right, ominous shadows?
That night, a strange figure comes in and steals the key ring.  The keys return..missing 2 though.
While waiting for the Boss to arrive, the Couple is greeted by his girlfriend.  She changes into her bathing suit, but someone/thing watches her in his slip (which is less revealing than most actual dresses people wear these days)...
She has a fight with the Boss when he arrives and decides to leave...but runs into a giant.  Khali?
In the film's only real scare, they take a page from House on Haunted Hill and have the old lady pop out and yell at a Nurse.  This doesn't amount to anything though...
That...however is pretty good.  I don't know what it actually means though...
Ultimately, our three remaining heroes find some people in the Attic, including Richard Kiel!  What?  Why?  How?
Well, the people were Circus Freaks who didn't know what to do when the last Owner died, so they hid.  Oh and the lady wasn't killed...and they just kind of leave.

Does anyone else feel like there is a missing final third here?  The End.
Not a bad Film, but it just kind of builds and builds to nothing.  Can you say anti-climax, kids?  Was this intentional?  I don't know, but it must be, right?  Someone Wrote, Shot and Edited this thing without thinking 'Wait- doesn't this Film just kind of stop?' even once.  Maybe it is just me.  Regardless, the Film has a simple enough Plot to connect with, a good Setting, a nice use of Shadows and some really-inspired Characters that hide in said shadows.  The problem is simply that there is no major pay-off.  Like I said, the Characters reveal themselves, they aren't evil, nobody died and they agree to just leave.  The Plot figuratively crashes into a brick wall of a Stop and takes maybe two minutes to pick up the pieces.  It is a shame, really.  It is one of those rare occasions that I want people to re-do this.  It isn't a perfect idea for a Film, but it could be so much better.  If you want a glimpse into how things used to be in Media, check out the fact that the married couple still have to sleep in twin beds (in 1963)!
Next up, a recent Film which hits a couple notable markers.  When in doubt, unleash Dinosaurs in L.A.  Stay tuned...

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