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Old 23rd March 2016, 10:51 AM
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Murder Mansion (1972)

A disparate group of strangers trying to escape a pea souper fog find themselves holed up at an old dark house. Once there they meet the beautiful Martha (Ida Galli) with all sorts of horrors awaiting them.

I really like this Spanish / Italian co-production. Similar to the following years Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye (1973) the film brings the genres of Gothic horror and Gialli crashing into one another with wondrous results.

The film plays with Gothic staples like vampires and the un-dead but it is the classic old dark house creepiness that works best of all. The initial plot is strikingly similar to James Whale's classic 1932 film - The Old Dark House - as the group of strangers are randomly thrown together with the seemingly odd folks who reside there. Whereas Whale had Karloff hulking about and a pyromaniac locked away upstairs, Murder Mansion has supernatural elements and in true giallo style a possible killer round every corner.

The Gothic horror is the main draw for me. Director Francisco Lara Polop creates a beautifully creepy landscape from the shadowy house to the stunning fog bound graveyard which echoes the best of the Corman / Poe films of the 60's.

For a giallo there's minimal blood and no nudity whatsoever. My dvd looks fairly poor at times and is clearly a nth generation vhs print which looks like it could have been cut for violence and nudity, but i'm not too sure. As with the aforementioned Corman / Poe cycle, Murder Mansion works on a subtler level, playing on audience reaction to characters fears rather than on screen violence. The fact some of the editing seems 'sharp' - well, many Italian films of the time seemingly suffered this problem.

The film sports some fantastic set pieces, including the lovely Analía Gadé in a strong performance, seemingly being stalked round the house and grounds with only a flickering flame for protection. Polop directs these sequences with skill and creates suitable tension and generally maintains an all round air of creepy weirdness throughout.

In among the general eeriness, red herrings await in customary giallo fashion and the film finishes with a fun practically Scooby Doo style big reveal ending.

Murder Mansion is a fine film and is begging for a suitable restoration and re-release.

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