House of the Living Dead (1978)
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House of the Living Dead (aka "Curse of the Dead" and "Kill, Baby, Kill!")
Starring: Mark Burns, Shirley Anne Field, David Oxley, and Bill Flynn
Director: Ray Austin
A South African plantation is haunted by a madman who starts killing animals but soon graduates to the butchering of people. Will the young lady of the house (Field) get to the bottom of the mysteries of this family she's marrying into... before she becomes a victim herself?
"House of the Living Dead" could have been a nice little gothic horror film if only its 45 minutes or so weren't so soul-crushingly dull. This is a film that takes "gradual build-up" to new extremes, but it does so without successfully building the sense of menace necessary. The last half hour, though, is great, spooky, 19th century mad-scientist/occultist fun... but it's not enough to make the misery of the film's early part worth sitting through. (If I'd seen this film back when I was working on the "Ravenloft" setting, I probably would have stolen the storyline wholesale for an adventure. Heck, I might still do that!)
Like so many bad horror films, "House of the Dead" has a great idea at its core, but its execution is completely botched. The actors all do a decent job, but the writer and director fail them. The end result is a movie that is best avoided... unless you're the world's greatest devotee of South African cinema.
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