3.8/10
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13 user 23 critic

Death by Invitation (1971)

R | | Horror | 20 October 1971 (USA)
A young woman learns that one of her ancestors had been burned at the stake as a witch. She decides to revenge her on the descendants of the people who had her killed.

Director:

Ken Friedman

Writer:

Ken Friedman
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Cast

Credited cast:
Shelby Leverington ... Lise
Aaron Phillips Aaron Phillips ... Peter Vroot
Norman Parker ... Jake (as Norman Paige)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jerry Allgor Jerry Allgor ... Dutch Villager
Sinee Assanuvat Sinee Assanuvat ... Person in Office
Maxine Berman Maxine Berman ... Dutch Villager
De De Binder De De Binder ... Dutch Villager
Michael Borrutto Michael Borrutto ... Dutch Villager
Joyce Bowen Joyce Bowen ... Dutch Villager
Frea Braem Frea Braem ... Dutch Villager
Bruce Brentlinger Bruce Brentlinger ... Michael Vroot
Karen Buryiak Karen Buryiak ... Dutch Villager
Denver John Collins Denver John Collins ... Roger Vroot
Debbie Dean Debbie Dean ... Dutch Villager
Margaret Duff Margaret Duff ... Dutch Villager
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Storyline

A young woman learns that one of her ancestors had been burned at the stake as a witch. She decides to revenge her on the descendants of the people who had her killed.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The brutal climax is just the beginning ... See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 October 1971 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Kirt Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Shelby Leverington. See more »

Goofs

In the end credits acknowledgment to Brookville Cemetery, Long Island, New York, the word cemetery is misspelled as cemetary. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Odd horror film, but not a good one
21 September 2010 | by lor_See all my reviews

Back when I was involved in the film industry circa 1980 I used to see many unreleased films, and they often had common defects accounting for their being shelved. Though it actually achieved a release in 1971, DEATH BY INVITATION displays similar problems.

It's a case of poor execution -the standard horror theme of centuries-old-curse leading to lame-duck revenge is trotted out, but delivered so crudely as to have no effect on the viewer. Films operate through tension and release, and when it's all flat (like this baby) or all tension/no release (as in the current sci-fi stinker NEVER LET ME GO) the viewer is left high & dry.

After a truly clumsy opening sequence set in times supposed to suggest the Salem Witch Trials (but on a zero budget), film settles into a rather tedious family drama set in modern Staten Island. It's a corny format of an outsider (striking looking Shelby Leverington, whose career as a character actress managed to overlook this unfortunate debut assignment) preying on a family. Script does a poor job of establishing her relationship, and the subsequent grisly murders are very poorly done, offering little meat for a genre fan to nibble upon.

It devolves into a shaggy dog exercise, not unlike what one would expect if the Coen Bros. made a send-up of low-budget horror films, including the usual cryptic elements. The story is neither compelling nor suspenseful, at best creating a sense of dread. The musical score tries to whip up some tension, but one can't help but gravitate towards a "who cares?" position. I saw THE CURSE OF THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN and CARNIVAL OF BLOOD from the same producer/distributor at drive-ins back in the '70s, but never saw this one get booked. It would have to be shown early in the evening when the sun was still out, because if it was shown late in the program no one would have stayed to the end.

And the climax is very clumsily edited, with a terrible fight sequence and poor sound. As with many films that never made it out of the lab, one feels that the needed re-shoots or coverage of a "scene missing" were not provided for in the low budget.

Telling is a pointless sequence where our hero wanders around an office building, given the runaround by secretaries, and finally arrives at patriarch Vroot's office only to have their inane conversation drowned out by loud Muzak that Vroot proudly has piped in. This idiotic footage goes on & on and gives one the impression that the director had strayed off the set.

Almost as bad is a preposterous gimmick wherein the detective investigating the family's murders is written to be not merely incompetent but aggressively stupid, so as to prevent the culprit from getting caught, and to keep the story's pot boiling. Even Something Weird's resident presenter Frank Henenlotter cannot alibi this lousy development, which is even worse than some of the outlandishness he tries to slip into his own horror films.

Ironically, I did see director Ken Friedman's next film, MADE IN U.S.A., in first run in 1987 and enjoyed it immensely. He never got a directing career going, but did write a number of very entertaining screenplays like MR. BILLION and WHITE LINE FEVER. So chalk this misfire of a supernatural effort up to lack of experience.


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