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Tales of the Haunted (TV) More at IMDbPro »Evil Stalks This House (original title)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Evil Jack Palance Stalks Old Ladies

5/10
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls
21 February 2015

The crummy DVD-R that I own of "Evil Stalks This House" has the poorest picture and sound quality I've ever seen, and yet I struggled myself through because I really wanted to see this film. Why? Well, because I'm a giant fan of Jack Palance and director Gordon Hessler, and admittedly also because I'm a sucker for movies with sinister titles such as this one. This is definitely a curious little oddity, and very VERY obscure. It doesn't even run for one full hour, even though it is stated here 96 minutes, and in spite of his name being listed in the cast, Christopher Lee isn't anywhere in sight. As far as I can tell, this was the pilot episode of a TV- series that eventually never aired. The plot is reasonably compelling (albeit clichéd and predictable) and quite entertaining mainly thanks to Jack Palance's malevolent performance. He stars as a devious father of two, whose car breaks down in the middle of nowhere late one night. They end up at a secluded old mansion where two seemingly defenseless old ladies live with a mentally handicapped man. Palance quickly notices that the house is full of antique treasures and refuses to leave. He even steals the heart medicine of one of the old women in order to blackmail her. Unfortunately for Jack, the old bags aren't as helpless as they seem and the house hides plenty of macabre secrets, like a lethal puddle of mud in the basement (?) and a witch coven in the attic. In spite of a couple ingenious moments (including the hilarious end twist) and an overall uncanny atmosphere, it's fairly easy to see why the format never became a long-running TV-series. The plot and characters are derivative and the production values are too poor. There's a notably creepy scene with a spider and another one with a dummy in the quicksand. Gordon Hessler has always been a sadly underrated but extremely skillful director in the horror genre. He started out with a handful of very ambitious fright-tales, like "The Oblong Box" and "Murders in the Rue Morgue", but then from the seventies onwards specialized in less notable TV- work.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not quite a movie and not quite a TV show

8/10
Author: (cfc_can@yahoo.com) from Toronto, Ontario
13 November 2006

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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