Teenagers gathered in an old mansion are being murdered one by one. The survivors must discover who among them is the killer before he finishes off everybody.Teenagers gathered in an old mansion are being murdered one by one. The survivors must discover who among them is the killer before he finishes off everybody.Teenagers gathered in an old mansion are being murdered one by one. The survivors must discover who among them is the killer before he finishes off everybody.
Having known little about this film for years other than its title, I found myself expecting a far different tale to the one that actually unfolded. Was there in fact any supernatural activity as the title suggested, or was the horror more conventional, leading to an earthbound whodunnit with B-movie slasher overtones? I must admit I was kept guessing for a while until those answers resolved themselves. All the meanwhile, I found myself reasonably entertained by the look and feel of a contemporary British sixties horror, from the swinging fashions to the unbelievable amount of smoking - actor George Sewell alone gives his best cigarette acting in this film. The musical score is fairly standard for the day and place - a good deal of brass, strings, moody piano and dramatic drum riffs. In fact, there were times when I felt sure this was a Bill ('Daleks: Invasion Earth 2150') McGuffie special, so either Reg Tilsley was familiar with his work, or these musical motifs were in vogue at the time. The lighting too is fairly conventional, though the day-for-night shooting became a little annoying after a while. Murky blue skies do not suggest midnight no matter how you dress them up, and must've been even more obvious on the silver screen.
The acting is competent if restrained - in part due to the lack of any really meaty roles on offer, though there are several luminaries of the period to help breathe life into the whole effort. Besides Sewell, we also have the soon-to-be Man About The House himself, Richard O'Sullivan, frequent TV guest star Jill Hawarth, and Robin Stewart, also soon to become well-known in Bless This House. Why we didn't get to see a lot more of the gorgeous Gina Warwick on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery. She and Hawarth almost make up for what is in the end, a rather pedestrian adventure.
And this in the end is what it is. I give it points for casting, period novelty, and for playing a little with audience expectations to avoid predictable plot trappings, but in the end, there is nothing ultimately remarkable about Haunted House Of Horror that helps it stand out from the competition of the day, like the popular Hammer Horror films. Which is not to say that their offerings are not sometimes prone to character cyphers, uneven pacing and abrupt endings, but more practiced hands on their part tend to make these things less of an issue. Interestingly, Tigon Films did snag horror veterans Karloff, Price, Cushing and Lee on a couple of occasions to produce horror-thrillers better received than what you find here - Scream And Scream Again, anybody? Nonetheless, Haunted House Of Horror should not be summarily dismissed - it's worth a look, but only if you've gotten a ways down through your must-view list.
- Dec 7, 2009