"House in the Woods" could very well be subtitled "When Wooden Heads Last in the Dooryard Bloomed"; it is somewhat like an episode of Boris Karloff's sorely missed American television show "Thriller", but this British stinker has no thrills. A 60+ minute melodrama so talky it would drive all the bats from the belfry in one fell swoop. Not only that, but if there were some spirits of the living dead wandering in the wood, they, too, would once again wish to die! All about a mad artist, in other words, one who never sold a painting, who ensnares two of the dumbest people ever to wander through a classified ad section looking for a cottage to rent in the proverbial "middle of nowhere", but smack dab in the middle of "a tight little island". This artist claims he never paints anymore, but when he gazes upon Patricia Roc's glowing countenance and broken nose, he must paint her immediately. After more strokes than it took to paint the Sistine chapel, he burns the painting of his "dearest wife" and put's Roc's masterwork in its place. Be well assured her likeness is no "Portrait of Jennie". Several other machinations follow like many trips ten feet out of the cottage into the wood to pick up sinister cigarette butts.But what is the artist really trying to say? What is the husband of Roc's character really trying to find? The solemnity of the entire business is almost without circumference, or is it? The enterprise comes to a screeching halt with one of the most ill timed fist fights in the history of cinema, but it is hugely unintentionally funny. All the viewer can do is keep watching until the bitter, but not better end! Michael Gough, the stilted husband here of Patricia Roc, made some astounding stinkers in his lengthy career, but thankfully he was "resurrected" this same year,1957, in Terence Fisher's much finer "Horror of Dracula". Perhaps, a soft shoe or mellow tap dance would have helped lift "House in the Woods" out of its swamp of dreck; it certainly wouldn't have hurt.
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