Monday, August 29, 2011

'The House That Screamed' has Hammer Films mood

The House That Screamed (1969)
Starring: Lilli Palmer, Christina Galbo, Mary Maude, Maribel Martin, and John Moulder-Brown
Director: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

The head-mistress of a boarding school for wayward girls (Palmer) tries with increasing fierceness to keep order and discipline in the sea of run-away hormones and rebelliousness among the students and her teenaged son (Moulder-Brown). But soon after the arrival of a new student, someone starts enforcing an even sterner form of discipline in the school's shadow-haunted hallways... a discipline that leaves girls dead.

"The House That Screamed" is a Spanish horror movie that successfully crosses the look and feel of Hammer Films' black-and-white psychological thrillers from the early 1960s with their gothic horror films of the 1960s. Writer/director Serrador isn't quite Terence Fisher, but he's the next best thing, as he delivers an effectively paced, well-staged film that will keep you guessing as to the identity of the killer and what exactly is going on within the walls of the girl's school until the Big Reveal at the end. While the ending ultimately is not all that surprising, the path leading there and its execution is chilling and stylish.

Featuring a talented cast of young actresses as the students, and a superb performance by Lilli Palmer who manages to portray a sadistic, controlling bitch and still illicit sympathy for her from the audience, and some shocking murders, this is a great film to check out if you liked "Susperia" or any of the black-and-white Hammer Films psychological thrillers--even if this film is in color. (Oh, one thing the film is surprisingly short on, what with its all-girls boarding school location, several sexual themes, and even a shower scene, is nudity. I don't recall any, in fact.)

1 comment:

Autumnforest said...

Okay, I'm now in the mood for it! I love these films. There is nothing like that era!