6.5/10
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2 user 1 critic

Tales of the Haunted (1981)

Evil Stalks This House (original title)
This is a story about an old dark house and a family curse.

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Stokes
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Helen Hughes ...
Maggie
...
Dody
Derrick Jones
...
Host
Reginald Love ...
Adams
...
Tom
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Storyline

Jack Palance stars as a self-serving, abusive boor who becomes stranded (along with his two children) by a thunderstorm, forcing them to take shelter in an isolated country estate owned by a group of mysterious and wealthy old dowagers. Seeing a golden opportunity, Palance soon turns to plundering their estate, but his plans collide with the secret activities of a Satanic snake-cult who carry out ritual sacrifices in the attic. Written by Ørnås

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12 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tales of the Haunted  »

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1.33 : 1
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Not quite a movie and not quite a TV show
13 November 2006 | by See all my reviews

I saw this back in the early 1980s on First Choice Superchannel Pay TV. If I remember correctly, it only aired once or twice. It's basically a filmed stage play but a pretty good one at that. The story is about Palance, a passing motorist and his two small children (though he looks more like their grand-father than their dad), stopping at the isolated, rural home of two old women when he has car trouble. He gets the idea that the house is full of valuable antiques and that the two old women are senile. He decides to stay on for awhile and makes the two kids help him with his plan to loot the place though they clearly do not want to. Needless to say, the two old women are not quite as helpless as they seem. It's cheap looking but manages to sustain interest, no small feat given the very limited number of locations. The film takes place almost entirely in the home of the old women. There are no real special effects or stunts but the film contains a sense of eeriness and nastiness which many bigger budgeted movies do not. Palance is known for having played many schlock roles but he is genuinely menacing here as the evil father. The IMDb lists Christopher Lee as being the "host" but in the version I saw, there was no host/narrator. According to one book that I read, this was made as a pilot on videotape for a proposed television series (a la Tales from the Darkside/Twilight Zone) which never came to pass. It deserves more attention. Even now, over 20 years later, certain scenes, especially the surprise finale, remain clear in my memory.


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