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The House by the Lake (1976)

Death Weekend (original title)
A rich playboy has a large house in the countryside. One weekend he invites a fashion model. On his way to the house, he drives past a gang of crazy young men. The men find out where the ... See full summary »



3 wins. See more awards »
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Cast overview:
Richard Ayres ...
Kyle Edwards ...
Don Granbery ...
Stanley (as Don Granberry)
Ed McNamara ...
Michael Kirby ...
Al Bernardo ...
Mr. Doobie
Roselle Stone ...
Mrs. Doobie
Elaine Yarish ...
Campground Girl


A rich playboy has a large house in the countryside. One weekend he invites a fashion model. On his way to the house, he drives past a gang of crazy young men. The men find out where the house is and begin to terrorize the couple. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It was Thanksgiving weekend. Diane had nothing to be thankful for... she was just trying to stay alive! See more »


Horror | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 March 1977 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The House by the Lake  »

Box Office


CAD 500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


William Fruet said the inspiration for the road-attack opening of the movie was based off of an actual event he was involved in. Fruet and a friend were once driving the back roads of Alberta, Canada when they were harassed by a car load of drunken thugs that tried to wreck them. The event inspired Fruet to write Death Weekend. See more »


During the opening car chase, the Camero smashes into an Oldsmobile, smashing a corner of the Camero's front end. Immediately after, the damage is gone. See more »


[first lines]
Harry: It's a great machine, isn't it?
Diane: Yeah.
Harry: When I cut into the super-charger I can get up to 140.
Diane: Wow.
Harry: You can't keep it like that 'cause the fiction will melt the engine like a marshmellow. I never met a woman who was interested in cars more then you are.
Diane: I lived with a guy who was a former driver. For a while. It didn't work out, but he taught me a lot about cars. And I loved it. I really loved it.
See more »


Referenced in When Strangers Appear (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

More Than Might Be Expected
5 October 2009 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

I really was not expecting anything spectacular when going into this film. By the time i'd seen this, i'd seen virtually all of the murder/revenge films and just about everything that involved a group of chaotic thugs who terrorize some normal people, who in turn end up fighting back or trying to escape, and they pretty much all were cheap exploitative dribble that was wholly unrealistic and poorly layed out. This movie on the other hand does some things differently that elevate it above pretty much all the rest aside from "Deliverance" and "Straw Dogs" which I'm not sure fall into the same category anyways. A movie like this can never surpass "Straw dogs" who's plot allowed for much more meaning and emotional depth, done so perfectly, where the violence also inevitably seemed more plausible the way it played out.

The film opens with a very spectacular car chase where the thugs are harassing the dentist and his model companion who is at the wheel. Pretty soon I was saying to myself "come on.... no other cars use this road?" and then CRASH. Finally the scene ends with the thugs landing in a ditch as the dentist and model drive off, having completely disgraced them, setting off a desperate need for revenge in the thug leader. The film had delivered a very convincing opening act, and from this point I had the sense that this director knew what he was doing.

It' the little things that are all at play which end up making the film much more convincing than lesser efforts. For example, when the leader opens up pretending to be nice and reasonable with the dentist in a very sardonic way, and his 3 comrades are snickering at it, as characters they all seem so believable, and this scene really does get across a foreboding sense of bad things to come, as we have already been shown just how fierce the leader can be.

One scene that I found to be a huge detractor was where the drunken gas store workers were killed by the thugs with the dentists boat. Firstly it was very coincidental that they borrowed the dentist's boat at this propitious moment, but more importantly, the way that they taunted and tormented the dentist and model, and the way tension grew and grew was so successful, that it seemed very much like a situation of bad luck, and one thing leading to another, though when we see them so callously murder these 2 people on the boat, it destroys much of that very well produced tension, because it means they were going to kill the dentist and model from the very beginning and the fate was sealed.

The unfolding chain of death at the end was again, much better executed than in most movies of this type, though still as usual, a little contrived that the shed trap would work so perfectly, that the 2nd last thug would stumble into quicksand and die, while the model avoided the same fate. One thing that I think certainly could have been better handled was the transition from night to day. I would have loved to see shots of the sun rising, of the model shivering in the night, waiting for morning. Regardless, the final showdown between the model and the leader is quite intense, and I love the added irony that the wounded dentist ran off to the car the night earlier after being shot, but died in the car, as he had no car keys, though luckily for the model she learned how to hot-wire cars.

The ending shot of the movie can only be described as extremely bizarre, and its so very perverted in the a sado-masochistic sense of what it implies. In terms of drama and meaning, as with the rest of the film, it really does not delve beyond the mere surface, but it does serve as a final jolt to the viewer saying: Not a masterpiece, but this movie definitely has enough thought and effort put into it to place it above average sleazy schlock like "Last House On The Left" or "I Spit On Your Grave"

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