Death Weekend (The House by the Lake) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Death Weekend (The House by the Lake) Reviews

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½ July 6, 2016
An affluent dentist takes model Brenda Vaccaro to his large, remote country house for the weekend. On the way, they run afoul of a group of drunken louts lead by Don Stroud. When Vaccaro runs them off the road, they vow revenge. They occupy the dentists house and terrorize the pair. This Canadian exploitation flick teams director William Fruet with Cinepix producers Ivan Reitman and Don Carmody, and is frankly the best non-Cronenberg flick Reitman had his hands on in this period. It's a fairly simple scenario, but it does not play out quite like you expect it to. Chuck Shamata's dentist character turns out to be a real slimeball, while Stroud turns out to be not quite as loathsome as you expect. While his cronies are a real bunch of creeps, Stroud really has Shamata's number and his pointed attacks ring pretty true. The film really comes down to Vaccaro vs. Stroud and his crew, and she turns out to be extremely resource, which is pretty carefully established in the first half hour. A really classy exploitation flick that's high on suspense and surprisingly low on sleaze.
March 2, 2015
Bill Fruet's Canuck Straw Dogs variation isn't as bad as one might assume, with a patient hour and ten rewarded with twenty entertaining concluding minutes of just what one might expect given the plot lines leading up to it.
July 14, 2013
From the opening all-out car chase to the ambiguous ending, "Death Weekend" - 1976 (aka "The House by the Lake") is several cuts above the typical home-invasion, "rape and revenge," type of drive-in horror film of which is is a pre-eminent example. I might even compare it to "Straw Dogs," the Peckinpah classic, or more disturbingly Michael Haneke's "Funny Games," a film I found reprehensible for its nihilism.
Produced by Ivan Reitman at the beginning of his career and starring Brenda Vaccaro and Don Stroud (anyone around in the 70s and 80s will know those names), this low-budget Canadian thriller has been very hard to find on DVD, but I understand a complete version is now available for viewing on YouTube.
Vaccaro plays Diane, a "model," who has accepted an invitation to spend the weekend at a remote country estate, ostensibly with lots of other guests, by a lecherous dentist whose moral bankruptcy should have been obvious to her, since Vaccaro plays a pretty savvy girl, but her dire situation only becomes apparent when she arrives at the place to discover he cannot resist pawing her and that there's not another person in sight for ten miles. The sleazy doctor (Chuck Shamata) also places her in a room with large mirrors, one-way mirrors behind which the pervert oral surgeon can lurk and peer, and yes photograph his new friend for his private porno collection.
But the real threat to our heroine comes from a gang of drunken, hooligan pot-heads in a souped-up jalopy whom the couple first encounters on the trip up to the estate. Their leader is Lep (Don Stroud), an arrogant bully. The men hang out the car windows; they jeer and leer, throw beer cans, and make obscene gestures at the couple until our girl Brenda, who happens to be behind the wheel of her companion's hot black Corvette, out-drives them in an extended car chase that would make Quentin Tarrantino proud. She eventually runs them off the road into a small creek and Lep is furious... he rants and raves, abuses his buddies, and vows to find her and secure his revenge.
Meanwhile up at the estate, in the course of the first day, the model had figured out that the dentist is a sleaze-ball and calls the weekend off, but it turns out not to be soon enough as that is the moment that the car-load of reprobate hill-billies arrives having tracked down their prey and the home invasion part of the film begins.
Prepare to squirm with discomfort as the larcenous group proceeds to terrorize the couple and wreck the dentist's fine house, all the while exhibiting a palpable sexual threat not only to the model, but to her male companion too.
How far do they go? How much murder and mayhem develop in the course of this thriller? Well, I don't want to spoil the fun, but I doubt that you will want to miss any of it.
I have a vague recollection of having seen this film back in the decade of its first release, and the drive-in where I worked would have probably booked this one. I always liked Vaccaro for her husky voice and her unusual style. And as for Don Stroud... he was a star in the firmament of B-movies - with his menacing good looks and an intense Brando-esque acting style. "Death Weekend" is only for aficionados of this type of exploitation cinema, but one wonders why it has been neglected through the years... perhaps it was just too good for its type?
May 16, 2013
The fashion model Diane (Brenda Vaccaro) has decided to follow the wealthy playboy dentist Harry (Chuck Shamata) for a weekend getaway at Harry's remote country house by a lake in Ontario. On their way to Harry's country house they had encountered a car load of drunken thugs, led by Lep (Don Stroud) and had got into a fit of road rage where Diane forces the punks off the road, wrecking them. Little do Diane and Harry know that the angry gang has followed them, looking for some vicious revenge against the arguing, unhappy and unarmed couple...

"Death Weekend" or "The House by the Lake" which title it was released under in America due to the fact that the distributors felt under that particular title it would be more marketable as Wes Craven's similarly-themed film "Last House on the Left" (1972) had been such a hit, is a classic rape-revenge flick that carries connections to Sam Peckinpah´s "Straw Dogs". The fact is that William Fruet actually wrote the film several years earlier, but didn't pursue shooting it at the time because "Straw Dogs" had just came out and he feared Death Weekend would be viewed as an imitator of that film. And it´s hard to not see the resemblance. I remember this movie being banned back in the days and I got hold of a VHS tape of it in the beginning of the 90s that didn´t work! Thus, almost 20 years later I finally get to see "Death Weekend", and I it´s hard to see why it was banned as I write this in 2013. Yes, the atmosphere is threatning at times and Don Stroud does put on a solid performance of a nasty thug. But, it´s not a movie
that makes that much of an impression and it´s not banning material if you ask me. Not bad within the rape-revenge genre, but nothing special either. "Straw Dogs" is better in my opinion.
April 19, 2013
This was a somewhat decent but lacking home invasion/rape revenge movie, that was kinda lacking that key ingredient....Rape. I'm not saying that's something I need in my movies, but when its advertised as a rape revenge and the most the female character gets is felt up under the shirt....it kinda takes the danger and suspense outta a film like this. This was a good example of mid 70s Canucksploitation that showed off a decent concept that was muddled down with over acting and overly long silly scenes that go nowhere. The main female lead DIane played by Brenda Vaccaro(who is mainly a comedy/musical actress) did a pretty good job as the tough,glamorous city chick. When her character is out cruising the country side with her male dentist friend in his corvette, a group of local dirt bags decide to chase them and throw bottles at their car. When Diane drives them off the road, they swear revenge on the two of them.
Her male dentist friend brings Diane up to his house by the lake, where he plans on seducing her with lies and liquor...but Diane figures this out and isn't having it. After a brief kinda silly argument, their relationship is strained to say the least. The five dirt bag friends led by Dan Stroud who plays Lep, find a local gas station where the two drunk attendants blab about who the dentist is and where his house is.
The rest goes from there but you can guess what happens when they invade the home, I thought I could have guessed but wasn't even close. To say I was alittle let down by the actual home invasion would be an understatement. First of all the five guys just spend more time talking and being abnoxious than actual physical or sexual assault. There are a couple sexual type assaults but they are very tame in comparison to movies such as Last house on the left or House on the edge of the park. The dentist friend gets his ass handed to him more than a couple times with beatings, and having his home destroyed.
The actual action and major violence takes such a long time to actually happen, so in the half hour before you just get super annoyed with the thugs and just hope for them to die, so you don't have to listen to their retardly awful jokes about farting and what not.
Diane does a great ass kicking job when she finally does fight back and shows you that a tough, city raised broad can do more than a pussy, candy ass, ivy league educated man, who knows nothing about fending for himself.
I sound alittle hard about this movie but it was a decent watch for what it was, but don't expect anything like the rape revenge/home invasion classics like straw dogs,last house,or house on the edge of the park. Its also has a really short running time which is good, because I couldn't deal with the "Thug" characters for another half hour. This is a pretty good weekend watch if you can catch it online or something but I wouldn't go out of my way to track it down if you're a fan of these type of movies.
August 28, 2011
This was a somewhat decent but lacking home invasion/rape revenge movie, that was kinda lacking that key ingredient....Rape. I'm not saying that's something I need in my movies, but when its advertised as a rape revenge and the most the female character gets is felt up under the shirt....it kinda takes the danger and suspense outta a film like this. This was a good example of mid 70s Canucksploitation that showed off a decent concept that was muddled down with over acting and overly long silly scenes that go nowhere. The main female lead DIane played by Brenda Vaccaro(who is mainly a comedy/musical actress) did a pretty good job as the tough,glamorous city chick. When her character is out cruising the country side with her male dentist friend in his corvette, a group of local dirt bags decide to chase them and throw bottles at their car. When Diane drives them off the road, they swear revenge on the two of them.
Her male dentist friend brings Diane up to his house by the lake, where he plans on seducing her with lies and liquor...but Diane figures this out and isn't having it. After a brief kinda silly argument, their relationship is strained to say the least. The five dirt bag friends led by Dan Stroud who plays Lep, find a local gas station where the two drunk attendants blab about who the dentist is and where his house is.
The rest goes from there but you can guess what happens when they invade the home, I thought I could have guessed but wasn't even close. To say I was alittle let down by the actual home invasion would be an understatement. First of all the five guys just spend more time talking and being abnoxious than actual physical or sexual assault. There are a couple sexual type assaults but they are very tame in comparison to movies such as Last house on the left or House on the edge of the park. The dentist friend gets his ass handed to him more than a couple times with beatings, and having his home destroyed.
The actual action and major violence takes such a long time to actually happen, so in the half hour before you just get super annoyed with the thugs and just hope for them to die, so you don't have to listen to their retardly awful jokes about farting and what not.
Diane does a great ass kicking job when she finally does fight back and shows you that a tough, city raised broad can do more than a pussy, candy ass, ivy league educated man, who knows nothing about fending for himself.
I sound alittle hard about this movie but it was a decent watch for what it was, but don't expect anything like the rape revenge/home invasion classics like straw dogs,last house,or house on the edge of the park. Its also has a really short running time which is good, because I couldn't deal with the "Thug" characters for another half hour. This is a pretty good weekend watch if you can catch it online or something but I wouldn't go out of my way to track it down if you're a fan of these type of movies.
November 11, 2010
Very cool and grimy grinder here. Definitely recommended!
½ October 11, 2010
Film d'horreur canadien basé sur des faits réels. L'atmosphère est sombre à souhait et le film est en avance sur son temps à plusieurs points de vue. Recommandé si vous pouvez le trouver...
December 24, 2009
Ca a le gout, l'odeur et la construction classique du "rape & revenge movie" sauf que ca reste beaucoup trop sage pour le genre.
October 23, 2009
Wow! A home invasion/revenge movie that is completely non-sleazy. This has been called a "Straw Dogs" rip-off but it's really a total inversion of Peckinpah's macho fantasy, and a much better film. Excellent performance by Vaccaro.
March 25, 2009
Retarded movie. Reminded me of that movie "Funny Games", expect not as good. The dentist is such a pussy it's not even funny. I liked the car chase in the beginning though. Ok, to be honest I didn't watch the ending, I had to go the store.
February 5, 2009
Quattro redneck sequestrano un riccastro e la sua donna nella di lui casa di campagna. Ovviamente, lui viene ucciso e lei violentata. Rape & revenge ribattezzato da noi "Un violento weekend di terrore", ma di violenza ce n'è poca e di terrore nemmeno l'ombra. Almeno Wes Craven aveva spogliato le attrici in "Last House on the left", qui siamo carenti pure a tette. Da evitare senza particolari rimorsi.
½ October 31, 2008
awesome canadian 70's grindhouse film.
½ October 31, 2008
better then the strangers....fuck this movie was pretty intense with that old school feel to it
July 2, 2008
Disappointing Canadian entry into the rape and revenge genre.

The villain is memorable, but the film isn't as nasty or maniacal as it should be. It is too restrained to ever sit side by side with such classics as Last House on the Left or Straw Dogs.

A very peculiar slow-motion flashback scene concludes the movie that seems to suggest that our heroine enjoyed her role as a victim and implies that perhaps she was smitten with the lead villain. I dunno. That seems a little bonkers to me.
June 30, 2008
Bad bad bad canadian rip-off of Last House on the Left. What triple bill I had that day with this, Rituals, and The Silent Partner.

Honestly the only thing I liked is the cool car chase at the begining with the gear-head girl outriding the idiots redneck soon-to-be-rapists. That's fun and exciting. As soon as they get to the house where the gang later finds them, it's the gang being loud, obnoxious and smashing things. They bother people, threaten to rape and attack and kill. It's not scary, it's just kind of disturbing without any thought provking or anything. This movie is really mean-spirited and expect you to enjoy idiotic loud people just do anything. Even the characters your supposed to root for just sort of stand there. No shocks, nothing exciting, produced by Ivan Reitman who would later do Ghostbusters and Kindergarden Cop. Big yuck.

Only gets one star for the idea that the film's first 10 minutes with the car chase is fond 70's nostalgia. Otherwise avoid at all costs. Even if your a gordhound there's little real gore in this, you get more gore in a Tarantino flick that's more fun and if you need your quota of "CANADIAN NUDITY" for the month watch Silent Partner which has it and doesn't make you feel sorry for who ever has to get nude for the most part.
½ April 22, 2008
En utrolig oversett liten exploitation sak dette.
Det er paa ingen maate noe revolusjonerende med filmen, men den er milevis bedre enn mye annet av samme kaliberet som blir sluppet om dagen.
Saa jeg finner det da synd at ingen har valgt aa gi denne ut paa DVD enda.
Filmen i seg selv er godt regissert, ingenting aa klage paa her, og jeg kan ikke hjelpe aa tenke at Tarantino har pugget enkelte scener fra denne da han lagde "Death Proof". Det er jo tross alt enklere aa stjele fra en film nesten ingen har hoert om.
Det tar litt tid for ting kommer seg i gang, men siste halvdel holder virkelig koken.
50-50 med gode og daarlige skuespillere, ikke at akkurat det spiller saa stor rolle. Filmen er da i hvert fall sleazy nok til aa tilffredstille exploitation fans, og da kan man ikke be om stort mer?
Foroevrig produsert av Ivan Reitman, som faktisk backet en rekke exploitation filmer pĂĄ 70-tallet.
½ January 19, 2008
Saw this while I was in the military. I was young a horney. Brenda Vaccaro looked good. It was billed a s a mystery/horro. It wasn't. Just a suspense little film.
January 16, 2008
A good early effort by cast and crew. Drags on a bit, but quite suspenseful with good characters and assembly. One of Ivan Rietman's early productions. I'm fond of earlier horror, as it relies more on suspense than special-fx-gore. This reminded me of the slightly more horrific Last House on the Left. Worth a look if you're a fan of 70s suspense. Brenda was great.
½ November 1, 2007
Yet ANOTHER 70s film that brings to mind the"Death Proof" Tarantino segment of "Grindhouse". Standard exploitation from the 70s, though better done than most, decent acting and surpisingly restrained for a film released in that shameless decade. Made in Canada, too!
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