Directed by Jean-Marie Pélissié [Other horror films: N/A]
Known under alternative titles such as The Bride and The Last House on Massacre Street, The House That Cried Murder was a film that I didn’t really know much about going into. I may have vaguely heard the title before (or at least one of them), but I didn’t know anything about it, and though the movie wasn’t really good in most conventional senses, I did think there was occasional charm to be had here.
Some of this, perhaps even a lot of it, has to do with the final twenty minutes, in which the film subverted expectations I held from the very beginning of the movie, which both surprised and impressed me. I really wasn’t expecting to be surprised by some low-budget 70’s movie with less than 300 votes on IMDb at the time of this writing, but here I am, so credit where credit’s due.
Really, the route this story took was sort of different. It possessed those quality 70’s sensibilities, and even the fact that the print I viewed was quite far away from stellar probably helped the vibe of The House That Cried Murder. Also moderately working in it’s favor is the fact the film is pretty short, lasting a mere 75 minutes (which at times still feels long, but more on that shortly). None of this is to say the movie is great, or even good, but like I said, it can be charming.
The unfortunate thing is, though, save the final twenty minutes (and if we’re being generous, final thirty minutes), there’s not really that much here to applaud. The rest of the film is rather dry (a fate that’s not entirely uncommon of movies from this time period), and while not painfully dull, there certainly wasn’t much to really help keep your attention. It picks up nicely, no doubt, but like Demented, getting there might be more of a hassle than you’d hope.
Arthur Roberts did okay as a rather unlikable character. I mean, he didn’t do great, but I don’t think most central performances here were that striking, so I wouldn’t take offense to that. And related to that sentiment, Iva Jean Saraceni’s short screen-time didn’t do that much to endear me to her character. Robin Strasser (the Bride in the film) was shaky too, but given what we learn about her character, I don’t really mind that. Out of everyone, I think John Beal (who played Strasser’s father, and starred in 1957’s The Vampire and 1939’s The Cat and the Canary) did the best, and was actually a character you could sympathize with.
There were some okay scares toward the latter half of the film, such as a nice surprise left in someone’s refrigerator and a tense walk up the stairs, but the movie never really gives us too much in that department. What’s more memorable, really, are the final five minutes or so, which seemed almost ahead of it’s time. I don’t personally know if I loved that ending, but it was at least unique, so again, credit where credit’s due.
As okay as the finale was, though, I don’t think credit is due that often. I certainly found The House That Cried Murder watchable enough, and occasionally enjoyable enough, but it’s sluggish pace during the first half is pretty damaging, and I just don’t know if the conclusion really saves it. It may well be worth at least one watch, but I don’t see this becoming a favorite of too many people.