Inn of the Damned (1975) Poster

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Quite a bit of filler... but one hell of an ending
jadavix2 April 2016
Read anything about "Inn of the Damned" and you'll doubtlessly come across a description of the way the movie was intended as a one-hour long episode of a TV series that was to begin with the director's earlier "Night of Fear". The TV show idea was scrapped when the ABC failed to pick it up, and so Bourke expanded his concept into an almost two hour long movie.

Read any REVIEW of the movie, however, and you'll read about the movie's strange, unsuccessful melding of two genres: the western and the horror movie.

What you WON'T read is what a fantastic short horror movie was buried in "Inn of the Damned"'s almost two hour length. It features the fulfilment of the promise Bourke showed in "Night of Fear", with some genuinely shocking, disturbing, and nail-biting moments.

Alas, these all come too late for those of us with short attention spans. The movie doesn't really try to mix the two genres; it starts as a tepid horror movie, has about an hour long preamble as a middling western, and then goes into full-on horror mode. The horror story could've been told in any time period.

The movie jolts us back into its REAL story with a strange subplot about two young women who stay at the titular inn who hate each other, but the older has sapphic feelings for the younger. Some would say that this is just more bizarre preamble before the movie gets going again, but I see it as a fantastic beginning of the superior and worth the price of admission, final act. It supplies us with nudity and lesbianism, yes, but also a macabre subplot that comes to an even more macabre end. And so the end begins in earnest.

I scoffed when I saw the "Hitchcockian" quote on the video cover. I was wrong. The master would have been proud of the movie's suspenseful, shocking and disturbing final moments. It's just too bad you have to wait so late in the movie to get there.
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OK Western
phibes0120001 February 2005
I watched an old VHS copy of this film. The box suggested a Night of the Western Dead, but the film is actually an Australian Western. Turns out director Terry Bourke is pretty good at it. Its about a hotel run by Dame Judith Anderson and her husband(?) weirdo doing the Psycho hotel number. Alex Cord plays an American bounty hunter looking for a sex pervert that is on the run. His story is the most interesting. The film could have left out the hotel thingy-story. Made in 1974. I'm recommending the film as a time filler. Please try to get it on DVD, as the old Paragon VHS is hard to find and kind of hard to watch: the picture is very grainy.
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An exciting and enjoyable film
trevor-22018 October 2006
It is getting a bit dated now and our view of films changes over time but the first time I ever saw this film I could NOT believe it had been made in Australia - I didn't think we were that good. I first saw it 30 years ago but still have a copy and am watching it again. There is more sex than I remembered - how odd - but there is some good acting and great scenery of paddocks shot around Camden. These are probably housing estates now.

I found the punch line quite moving and still do. The acting is good and quite professional. On the whole, it is still a scary movie without the use of cgi or special effects.
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Doom With A View...
azathothpwiggins13 February 2022
INN OF THE DAMNED is about a seemingly normal, older couple who run the quiet country establishment of the title. In actuality, they're a pair of homicidal psychopaths with a unique, ingenious method for dispatching their prey.

Many deaths ensue before someone gets wise to the deadly duo, resulting in a final conflict and the revelation of the demented couple's twisted motive.

If you enjoy gruesome tales with just enough naughtiness -bath time!- to keep things interesting, then this is perfect for your next late-night viewing...
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Oddball Australian `horror western'
Filmtribute5 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
The Syme home video publicity claims this film is in the tradition of a Hitchcock suspense thriller but it is played more as a spaghetti western with the typical opening hauntingly choral musical score, and sadly Terry Bourke's direction is not in the same league. The tale revolves around the mysterious vanishing of guests from a hostel deep in the Australian rain forests of Gippsland, Victoria in 1896, run by the Straulles, an Austrian couple. Unfortunately the owners of this wayside inn are simply not as sinisterly menacing as Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates in Hitchcock's classic, `Psycho'. Originally an outstanding stage actress, Dame Judith Anderson (Caroline Straulle, who is obviously fussy about the social standing of her guests/victims, bemusingly objecting to a whore) gave a more convincing performance as the chillingly malicious housekeeper Mrs Danvers in Hitchcock's 1940 version of Daphne Du Maurier's `Rebecca', for which she was deservedly nominated an Oscar. Her co-star (Joseph Furst) prior to this, seems to have made a career out of playing caricature mad Austrians, as in the Bond movie `Diamonds Are Forever'. There is an attempt at an ominous moodiness in the guesthouse but it is hardly developed to any great level and the various murders are weakly staged, accompanied by Bob Young's strangely clonkingly unsuspenseful music, which at other times can be jauntily, and even eerily, melodic. One wonders why the victims didn't just simply get out of bed rather than screaming hysterically whilst waiting to be crushed by the slowly descending canopy? At one point the more successful mixture of western and gothic horror in `The Beguiled', with Clint Eastwood, is hinted at when its sexual tensions are mirrored with the depiction of an illicit and exploitative relationship between a stepmother (Diana Dangerfield) and her younger charge (Carla Hoogeveen; `Class of ‘74').

Why the Straulles sought revenge on their guests for the abduction of their two children a dozen years earlier by a ghoulish escaped convict, or why they believed the two pictures they kept locked in a room were really their `liebchen' is not satisfactorily explained. Nor is any reason given as to why disposing of the bodies in the well didn't contaminate the water supply and mercifully kill off the psychotic couple. The coachman, Biscayne (Robert Quilter), who brings unwitting visitors to the hostel, is wanted for murder and also happens to be a horse thief which provides the opportunity to follow a western style manhunt when he is pursued by an American bounty hunter and maverick, Cal Kincaid (Alex Cord). Real horror and terror are missing, leaving only puzzlement as to what else this could have been about, as it certainly failed me on the obvious levels. The actors have some poor lines to work with (after a botched murder attempt Lazar Straulle lamely utters `Die, die, why don't you die?') and they are challenged to do an adequate job, as we are to enjoy it, never finding our sympathies drawn for any of the characters. It maybe that the audiences of 1974 appreciated this style of film making more and its female nudity in particular, although the naked fruit feast scenes are laughable rather than erotic, but unfortunately my appetite for this morsel has been jaded by too many slicker Hollywood movies.

Although the horror may not be pronounced, Brian Probyn's cinematography captures a certain malevolence as well as promoting the diversity of the region's arresting wilderness and lush rain forests, and his work can be further seen in `Far East', John Duigan's colourful remake of `Casablanca'. John Meillon as a bumbling petty thief also gives a brief taste of his future performance as Paul Hogan's amiable sidekick, Walter Reilly in the first two `Crocodile Dundee' movies.

Whilst it is hard to recommend this feature for entertainment value alone it does have appeal for those with a curious interest in the history of Australian film making and its actors. I used the trackdown service from All About Movies for a secondhand copy of this video, although ScreenSound Australia also holds preservation material.
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Interesting enough
grantss8 August 2021
At an isolated inn, the elderly owners, Caroline and Lazar Straulle, are killing off anyone who stays with them. Meanwhile, in the same area, a murderer is on the run from the law. At the vanguard of his pursuers is a bounty hunter, Kincaid, a highly resourceful man. It is inevitable that he and the Straulles will cross paths.

Better than expected, though still not great. On the surface this seems like a common-or-garden horror movie. However, it turns out it is better than that, being a crime-drama and an okay one at that.

Yes, the production values are quite low and the plot a bit haphazard but it is interesting enough. Performances are solid, which is the biggest surprise.

Not great though. As mentioned, the plot lacks solidity. Moreover, it is quite padded: the early and middle sections seem to go around in circles and there are several scenes and sub-plots that could easily be left out.

It does end in very thrilling fashion though, making up for the tedium of some of the earlier scenes.
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Classic 1970s AU thriller
kveneris20 June 2018
I enjoyed the movie itself.Good original but sad story. Touched a not very exposed taboo.That is Female molestation of younger teenage girls briefly. The sound quality and lighting is not the best.Time for a remake in the digital era.
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The pedigree of the leading lady raises this past bomb.
mark.waltz30 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The Australian born Dame Judith Anderson returns to her homeland for this Gothic horror thriller that has potential but sadly doesn't meet its expectations thanks to a convoluted back story, an extremely violent structure, and sadly even more, a very slow pacing. The only hint which the audience is given to understand the murderous actions of country inn owners Anderson and Alex Cord is a dream sequence Anderson has which shows a maniacal man rushing into a cave with two children. This disturbing sequence is also explained through portraits of children whom we are lead to believe are paintings of the children in Anderson's dream that the audience is supposed to assume are hers and Cord's. What leads them onto the murderous path they take isn't really clear except that their guests include obvious prostitutes and their clients and some less than law abiding men. The method is quite gruesome, with a canopy bed that literally comes down to crush the victims to death, their screams echoing through the entire inn as the realization of their fate becomes clear to them.

Another victim is continuously stabbed by Cord, and when he doesn't pass away quickly, Cord screams out in anguish, "Would you just die already?" before grabbing an axe to finish the job. The aging but still obviously tough Anderson also gets in on the violence, shooting a visiting American lawman who obviously is aware of something going on. Her stalking of this wounded man is scarier than even the crushing sequences. However, while you certainly want to feel sympathy for her possibly having lost her children in such a way, Anderson and Cord's need for revenge on everybody who spends an evening in their inn of the damned really doesn't make sense other than to explain that in their grief they would commit such violent acts.

As a huge Dame Judith Anderson fan, I was looking forward to this back in the mid 1980's when she was under contract (but barely on) the daytime soap opera "Santa Barbara". This was shown on Saturday afternoon T.V., hosted by none other than Elvira (Mistress of the Dark) who sardonically remarked that the film looked more like a western than a horror movie. There's some unnecessary comedy bits which throw the mood off at the very beginning and a lush musical score which doesn't aid in the film's horrific theme. Still, Anderson is excellent, plays her role with much subtlety, but Cord appears a bit too young to be her husband. I wanted to like this one a lot more, but the lack of cohesion is really what destroys it.
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Just trash - don't believe the positive reviews
romneymeredith6 January 2021
It took me over 3 days to finally complete watching this dreck. The picture quality was atrocious, the direction bewildering, the motivation of the inn owners nebulous and the plot was ridiculous. I really wanted to take the time to write a thorough dissection of this garbage but then it would have stolen even more of my time. I only watched it for Alex Cord, curious to see him in a lead role - that's the last time I'll make that mistake. Bottom line - with the exception of some blatantly unnecessary nudity this movie is a complete, idiotic bore.
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A most unusual Australian movie.....
pgatehouse2 August 2000
A most unusual Australian low-budget movie that is deceptively simple in appearance. Terry Bourke, to whom the Australian film industry owes a huge debt, directs his actors with a deft touch. The multi-talented Bourke is also responsible for the insightful, often witty script.

The much-loved John Meillon puts in an eye catching performance and it is a pity he isn't used in more scenes. Highly recommended.
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How did this crap ever get filmed?
andy.marshall5 January 2000
Oh my goodness gracious, this one sets the standard for the worst movies of all time. I haven't seen many of those on the worst 500 list but how this turkey didn't make it is anyone's guess. Dumbest food/sex scene in history. Cliched slomo shots - hey this baby's got it all!
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Down-under motel hell is a best western tale of terror
Chase_Witherspoon31 December 2022
I first saw 'Inn of the Damned' years ago then caught it again recently and I'm pleased to report having only grown more fond of this quirky Australian western-horror, a highly original one-of-a-kind tale featuring a cast so talented and diverse it simply can't miss.

Director Bourke seizes the opportunity to spend an ample budget (a record at the time in Oz) on building an elaborate mystery, the characters afforded more depth than usual, in particular Cord's likeable Dirty Harry-esque bushranger hunter who becomes suspicious of the old Inn after a disappearance. Dame Judith Anderson and Joseph Furst are both first-rate as the reclusive inn-keepers guarding a harrowing secret, and there's even space for both John Meillon AND Michael Craig in the deeper-than-expected casting.

It's essentially a horror movie set in 1890s outback, so whilst there's horse chases, stagecoaches and spurs in abundance, it's still a bona fide thriller delivering well-timed shocks and some ghastly make-up effects.

Initially I felt the film was perhaps 20 mins longer than needed, but I came to appreciate the character backstories including the victims (often depicted simply as bait for an opportunistic killer). Instead we've an assortment of eccentric lodgers each bringing their own sordid situations into the orbit of the senile serial killers.

Special mentions also go to local stage actor & playwright Robert Quilter as the despicable vagrant-criminal Biscayne, and then the Diana Dangerfield (Brisbane-based theatre actress & playwright)/ Carla Hoogeveen (also seen in Bourke's earlier anthology 'Night of Fear') lesbian love triangle was an unexpected detour which despite the salaciousness, felt more art-house than exploitation due to the capable performances.

Overall I can understand the criticisms at the film's perceived padding, but realistically there's plenty of blood-letting at regular intervals and if you invest in the characters, there's a tense, unsettling climax to make the wait worthwhile.
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qomolangma24 April 2015
Crap of the highest order. I (thankfully) missed the beginning and end of this turkey. I could only endure about 15 minutes of it. It was shown recently on late night Australian television. I was watching a scene where someone got shot by the Kincaid (Alex Cord) character, and couldn't believe the atrocious dialogue, acting, and direction which was inherent. It didn't get better when I returned from another channel a few minutes later. There were some decent actors in it (Michael Craig, the late John Meillon), and I can only assume that Inn of The Damned goes MIA from their résumés. I'm giving this a score of one, and that's for the naked sheila.
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