• House Of Terror

    Released by: Retromedia/Bayview Entertainment
    Released on: December 11, 2012.
    Director: Sergei Gancharoff
    Cast: Jennifer Bishop, Jacquelyn Hyde, Arell Blanton
    Year: 1973
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    The Movie:

    Sergei Gancharoff’s 1973 film, now released on DVD by Retromedia for its fortieth anniversary, introduces us to a foxy young single mom named Jennifer Andrews (Jennifer Bishop) who leaves the confines of her San Francisco abode to head south to start a new career as a nurse. Employed not in a hospital but in a private home, Jennifer is to take care of Marsha Kramer (Jacquelyn Hyde), the wife of a very wealthy man named Emmett Kramer (Mitchell Gregg). It seems that Marsha has had some problems and she’s more or less on suicide watch, hence Emmett’s interest in bringing on a nurse to help.

    Upon her arrival, Emmett seems quite kind and happy for the help Jennifer is able to provide, but Marsha basically wants nothing to do with her. An odd and antisocial maid named Norma (Irene Byatt) who has been with the family long enough that she found Emmett’s parents murdered years before, an incident that terrorized her so much that she lost the ability to speak, doesn’t make things any easier for Jennifer. Complicating matters even more is the unexpected rendezvous that occurs when Jennifer runs into Mark (Arell Blanton), the wayward man who impregnated her years back and who has just been released from prison. When he and Jennifer rekindle what they once had, he starts making noises about taking advantage of Emmett and his substantial bank account, and when Marsha turns up dead in a bathtub full of bloody water, Mark figures the time is right for Jennifer to marry Mark and then quickly divorce him for a cut of his cash. Of course, none of this goes as planned and when Jennifer starts to realize that Emmett’s way more of a catch than Mark will ever be, foul play is afoot!

    Seemingly the only film directed by Gancharoff (he did edit The Female Bunch of Al Adamson though, and that’s kind of awesome), House Of Terror isn’t particularly terrifying but it does feature a house. So there’s that. This is more of a suspense thriller than the horror movie that the cover art would like you to believe, but that’s okay. Don’t go in expecting much in the way of sensational sex or violence, the movie plays things pretty safe here and though the DVD packaging notes that it’s not rated, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t pass with a PG rating these days. There is some decent atmosphere, some low budget quirkiness and a couple of decent twists in the plot to make up for that, however.

    Performances are okay. Jennifer Bishop is certainly easy to look at and Jacquelyn Hyde, who is probably best known for her appearance in Woody Allen’s Take The Money And Run, is actually quite good (and by good, I mean nutty) here in a cool duel role. The movie goes at a decent pace, it doesn’t overstay its welcome and while ultimately it might be fairly disposable entertainment, at least it’s entertainment. Fans of oddball seventies low budget obscurities will get more out of this than those with a taste for more mainstream, polished fare.


    The 1.33.1 fullframe transfer on this disc isn’t going to win any awards but it’s certainly watchable enough. Sourced from 16mm elements, it’s rough around the edges but colors fare reasonably well. If black levels are a bit murky and shadow detail a bit weak, the lighter scenes look decent. This isn’t an amazing transfer, but it’ll do.

    The English language Dolby Digital Mono track suffers from a couple of dropouts here and there but is, for the most part, serviceable enough. There’s some minor hiss in a few spots but it’s not particularly distracting. No alternate language options, closed captioning or subtitles are provided here.

    There’s only one extra here but it’s actually a really good one – the sixty-one minute long Super Horror Trailer-Rama! Yep, you get just over an hour of vintage movie trailer for mostly public domain stables like Night Of The Living Dead, The Bat, House On Haunted Hill and Carnival Of Souls but also a few other unexpected oddities like The Awful Dr. Orloff and Castle Of Blood. It’s a nice addition to the disc even if it doesn’t necessarily coincide with the feature attraction in any specific way.

    The Final Word:

    House Of Terror isn’t particularly terrifying and in fact it’s frequently kind of stodgy but it does offer up some nice atmosphere and a decent slow burn storyline. Gancharoff’s pictures doesn’t reinvent the wheel but if you’re looking for some mild, gothic thrills this’ll fit the bill. Retromedia’s DVD looks okay but the inclusion of an hour’s worth of trailers is a nice addition.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Todd Jordan's Avatar
      Todd Jordan -
      I spotted the J&B