When it comes to horror/cult cinema, yours truly is a sucker for two things, namely long & lurid sounding titles and grisly looking vintage film posters! Half of my watch-list exists of films that are purely selected based on these two criteria, and in many cases I never really bothered to properly read what the actual plot is about. Thanks to the title and the poster, this particular movie stood extremely high on my must-see list. Admittedly the official title is the colorless and dull-sounding "Revenge", but there are the two awesome alternate titles "Terror from under the House" and "Inn of the Frightened People", and who could resist the filthy green movie poster with the image of a guy with glasses screaming and plenty of catch words and phrases like "be ready to scream!" or "you may never dare go in the basement again!" Of course I assumed this was a full-blooded horror movie, also because director Sidney Hayers already made a few great ones like "Night of the Eagle" and "Circus of Horrors", but actually this is a stern melodrama dealing with some harrowing themes like pedophilia, grieving over lost children, the hunger for justice but the lack of courage to actually kill, etc.
The film opens dramatically with the Radford family mourning at the funeral of their young teenage daughter. We learn she was killed by a child molester, but the police had to let him go due to lack of evidence. Together with another grieving father and his furious son, Jim Radford kidnaps the slimy and eerie SOB after having observed how he lives like a hermit and stops at the local elementary school to peep at the children. They beat him – Seely – up beyond recognition and keep him stashed in the basement underneath Jim's pub. The situation puts a lot of pressure on the entire family. They don't dare to release him, but neither do they dare to dispose of him for good. Meanwhile, the impact of hiding a pervert in the basement begins to have strange effects on the family relationships, notably between Jim's second wife and her stepson, and then suddenly it's not even sure anymore if Seely is really culpable. This may not have been the horror movie I expected, but it was definitely an uncomfortable and very confronting film to watch. The scenes at the beginning of the film, when the men are stalking the suspect and observing his bizarre behaviors from within the car, are eerily suspenseful and make you wonder (especially if you're a parent as well) how you would react. There are a couple of more powerful sequences, like when Seely awakens from his beating while the pub is full of customers or when Mrs. Radford has to prevent a scheduled beer delivery from happening. The acting performances are astoundingly good as well. Although one of the least flattering roles of her entire career, Joan Collins gives away a stellar performance as Carol Radford; - Jim's second wife. James Booth and Ray Barrett are terrific too, as the vengeful but petrified fathers, but Kenneth Griffith also definitely deserves to get mentioned here. Not only is his role as child molester suspect a very courageous one, he also manages to come across as simultaneously pathetic and weak and yet menacing and dangerous! Unfortunately "Terror from under the House" doesn't remain compelling throughout. The script loses a lot of its pace and impact in the second half, since the story doesn't develop. The lead characters don't make any decisions; in fact, the only thing they keep repeating when asked how to deal with their problem is: "I'll think of something". If you do manage to struggle through the disappointing second half, you'll be rewarded with a more or less strong climax but still you are left behind with the feeling that the film could have been a lot better overall.
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