Directed by Bud Townsend [Other horror films: Nightmare in Wax (1969)]
Perhaps better known under the (admittedly more memorable) title Terror at Red Wolf Inn, Terror House is an interesting, though ultimately somewhat forgettable, little movie.
The plot is of mild interest, what with young women being lured to a remote inn for a vacation, only to eventually be killed and consumed by the elderly cannibalistic owners, and it’s that cannibal aspect that I find most unique. Two years before The Texas Chain Saw Massacre hit the scene, we have a movie with a cannibalistic family going after people, which makes me wonder why this one isn’t mentioned a bit more.
Truth be told, there’s not a whole lot I wanted to touch upon on Terror House, but a few things stand out, such as the peacefully catchy opening song (credited as ‘My Dream’ by Marilyn Lovell), a folk-county piece that pulls you into the movie. Okay, it’s not that good, but it was a nice, somewhat cheesy, song, and it looks like I’ll have to rip it from the movie itself as no other videos seem to exist of it online.
Within the film, two scenes stand out, both of which are amazingly ridiculous. In the first scene, our main character Regina (played by Linda Gillen) finds out she’s won a vacation to the mysterious Red Wolf Inn, and excited beyond comprehension, she runs out of her dorm room to tell her neighbors, or anyone, that ‘I’m a winner! I won! I’m a winner!’ Such exuberance has nary been witnessed before on screen. It’s just hilarious.
Also hilarious is when a somewhat off man named Baby John (played by John Neilson) sees a shark swimming near the shore, and he freaks out, screaming ‘SHARK!’ and then mercilessly beating it to death on a rock, then once done, turns to Regina, only to say that he loves her. He walks away. Regina’s confused. Cue end scene.
Despite what these two scenes might otherwise suggest, like most 70’s horror, Terror House generally took itself seriously. The older cast members (Arthur Space and Mary Jackson) were both seemingly sweet, but turned out rather sadistic, and while there’s not much in the way of gore here, there were a few solidly suspenseful sequences that weren’t too shabby.
Linda Gillen wasn’t amazing here, but she did have that youthful naiveté that I sort of appreciated, though how she fell for a guy like Baby John (John Neilson), I’ll never understand. She did seem a little bit of a ditz, so maybe she didn’t think too much on it. Neilson, for his part, was sort of interesting, as his character was conflicted between following the family tradition or breaking free of the madness and finding a potential stability. Both Arthur Space and Mary Jackson were fun, all things considered.
As interesting as portions of Terror House are, there’s also a fair share of dull sequences, such as multiple scenes eating dinner (always awkward), or just a general slow-moving plot. Mill Creek Entertainment’s copy of the movie isn’t great, but at least this got a DVD release, however cheap, because otherwise, I suspect this would even more unknown.
The conclusion of the film was questionable, but I did appreciate the layout of the credits (setting things up like an old-fashioned menu, which was pretty cute). Overall, while the goofy scenes are a treat, I don’t think Terror House is a movie that I’d revisit all that often, and can only tepidly recommend it for a single watch.