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Friday, July 27, 2012

Terror House



Terror House (aka Terror at Red Wolf Inn)
1972
Bud Townsend

I have a distinct memory of seeing a poster for this movie hung up next to a poster for ‘The Supernaturals’ (1986) and ‘Microwave Massacre’ (1983) back in the deep dark corner of the horror section in one of the first video rental shops in our neighborhood. I never rented it back then because it has a big PG rating slapped on it, and any self-respecting  thirteen year old  knows all the good horror movies have R or "UNRATED! TOO SHOCKING FOR THEATERS!!!" on them. 

A young college girl, Regina (Linda Gillen), is contacted by phone that she has won a free vacation. Not being the brightest bulb at college, and living in the weirdest looking grungy dorm in cinema history, she sets out on her trip. She is brought to a bed and breakfast, but not before the young man sent to get her, Baby John (John Neilson) decides to let the cops chase him around and generally act like an inbred lunatic.

Naturally she begins to fall in love with him.

At Red Wolf Inn, Regina meets a few other girls and the owners, Henry and Evelyn Smith (Arthur Space and Mary Jackson). The Smiths insist on feeding the girls a lot of food. A lot of food. Waaaaay too much food. Why ever would they be doing that? In a way the movie pulls a clever feint, seeing the cannibalistic writing on the wall you start waiting for the girls to start becoming meals and that's when the movie blindsides you with a shark attack.

Not a shark attacking a man, mind you. While Baby John and Regina sit on the beach and have an awkward romantic moment, Baby John discovers he's reeled in a small shark on his fishing line. He then proceeds to smash it repeatedly on a rock while screaming, "SHARK! SHARK! SHARK!" Then he turns to Regina and tells her he loves her before stomping off and leaving her to pitifully try and bury the shark in some sand.

The movie reaches a familiar climax not too long after that, with The Smiths wanting to butcher poor Regina and Baby John's loyalties caught in the middle. I won't spoil the final image of the film but it's another well done feint, and I couldn't help but smile.

‘Terror House’ occupies the ground somewhere between ‘The Texas Chain-Saw Massacre’ (1974) and ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ (1975), although it predates both of them. The production is suitably grimy and low rent. The main characters are a little weak but I think any characters thrown against the lunatic antagonists would seem that way. It’s much more of a comedy, albeit with a real sense of dread throughout, and it often ends up being quite clever.

The movie is PG, so it is low on gore, but high on weirdness. I started watching this with no expectations but came away with a fun bizarro film. Recommended for your next cannibal potluck.

3 comments:

  1. Good review... I'll try to check this one out. That being said... I WISH I could find a copy of The Supernaturals, somewhere ANYWHERE.

    There's no DVD as far as I can tell.

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    Replies
    1. There is an R2 version of it, but it looks hard to come by. Hopefully Netflix or Code Red will pick this up soon.

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  2. I especially like the "shark attack" feature.

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