House of the Damned – DVD Review


DVD available at Amazon.com

Director:
Maury Dexter

Cast:
Ron Foster….Scott Campbell
Merry Anders….Nancy Campbell
Richard Crane….Joseph Schiller
Erika Peters….Loy Schiller
Georgia Schmidt….Priscilla Rochester
Richard Kiel….The Giant

Fox Home Entertainment presents House of the Damned. Screenplay by Harry Spalding. Running time: 63 minutes. Unrated. Theatrical release 1963. DVD released Sept. 5, 2006.

There’s a sinister vibe emanating from a vacant mansion previously rented by a circus owner. Before the lease ran out, he mysteriously disappeared. The real estate company doesn’t care what happened to their former tenant. It’s time to get the property ready to be listed. Scott Campbell gets hired to inspect the “white elephant” of a house and estimate the best course of action. Should it be repaired, busted up into an apartment complex or leveled? He’s going to need all his architecture skills to understand the winding mansion that was built by a nutty heiress. Scott takes his wife along for the weekend survey job because there’s nothing more romantic than being in a creepy castle-like house that has a working dungeon and no phone.

During their first night in the house the wife swears an intruder snuck into the bedroom. Is someone lurking in the dark? When the husband wonders if she’s over reacting, they discover the house keys are missing and the power out. After scouring the house, they find the key chain, but two of the keys are missing. What rooms are they being kept out of? What lurks inside the mansion?

For a film that’s only 63 minutes long, it takes its sweet time to get to the frights. The major abduction doesn’t happen until the final reel. Judging from the pacing and the dialogue, House of the Damned should have been an episode of a scary TV anthology like Boris Karloff’s Thriller. But this was intended to be played in a cinema since it was shot in Cinemascope. The most recognizable cast member is Richard Kiel. He’d become immortalized as Jaws, the James Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

Nothing is too brutal or grotesque in House of the Damned. A majority of the fright comes from shadows and the deep bass soundtrack. The big reveal at the end is something out of a Scooby-Doo episode with just a touch of Freaks thrown in. It’s the perfect halloween flick for an eight year old girl who wants to see something frightening, but not quite as horrific as Hostel.

The DVD:

The Video:
This is the first time Fox has released this film in any home video format and they’ve created a sharp transfer. The disc is a flipper with one side being an anamorphic 2:35:1 image. The other side is the 1.33:1 pan and scan.

The Audio:
Audio is English in Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono and stereo. Subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.

Special Features:
Trailer 1:45 – The trailer makes this look like non-stop chills and action.

Poster Gallery – Three of the posters are displayed.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for House of the Damned
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

3
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

The Inside Pulse
This is an obscure title that I’d never encountered before the DVD release. It’s nice to see that not only is Fox digging up rarieties from their vault, but they are giving them quality transfers. While it’s not the scariest of Halloween flicks, it might be creepy enough for elementary school kids.