Theme Song: Bad synth and keyboard on the “Clavichord” setting with the same 5 or 10 notes repeated over and over and over and over and over.
Interesting Dated References: Split-personality stuff that used to be interesting. No one finds this stuff interesting anymore because we’ve all resigned ourselves to accepting the fact that everyone has multiple personalities. But for some reason in the 70s people thought this made good fodder for films.
Best Line: Butler –– “Care for a drink?” Woman in reply — “Oh, no, I never drink.” Butler — “Quite the opposite with me I’m afraid. Though the palate’s gone, I suppose, but not the desire.”
Social Context: Mildly relevant to the massive onslaught of split-personality movies of the late 70s and early 80s, but other than that, nothing of note. Some mild commentary on how “delusional” women can be. I can tell I’m going to need a new laptop soon. This one’s really on the outs. I’m semi-concerned considering I don’t have the finances for it right now.
Summary: Oh great, a movie that opens up with a grown daughter writing a letter to her dad about how her mother died and then the whole thing going into one giant flashback. The girl is that chick from the excellent Warren Oates vehicle, Cockfighter. As the flashback begins, the woman tells of her first job caring for some wealthy old man and her interaction with the various other people that work for the old man. When she first arrives (in the flashback), she meets the staff.
The woman playing the cook is Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. The butler continues showing the girl around and takes her to the wine cellar. This is actually pretty awesome because he reveals he is a drunk and has slowly been drinking all the wine and putting back the empty bottles. He calls the wine his “medicine.” The tour continues and there is talk of a grandson who will be coming to live at the house.
Of course, Meredith (the narrator) begins to hear things in the vacant room next door. When she investigates she is attacked by the mentally-deranged Wilfred, who is the son of the old man. The next day the old man explains about Wilfred, and also talks about the grandson who is coming and how the grandson’s parents died (hiking accident).
The grandson arrives and he’s like 32. Since he’s 32, the butler buys him a skateboard. The kid must have lived in isolation because he doesn’t know what a skateboard is. He says he wants a gun instead. Sometime later that night a dog goes missing and the kid (named Gabriel) is seen walking around.
The next morning he seductively eats a peach in front of Large Marge and Meredith, and I’m not sure which of the two he was trying to impress there. I should also mention that the guy playing Gabriel, who is seductively eating a peach, is the real life son of Michael Dukakis. Oh, and Meredith does voiceovers about how “they expected a boy, but got a man.” Obviously she is falling in love for this 32 year old who doesn’t know what a skateboard is. Actually, that’s a good thing. I know some 28-year-old dudes who still think it’s cool to skateboard and they are just really sad. They go to the mall and try to do tricks in front of “chicks” (READ: teenage girls), then they get drunk and complain about their ingrown toenails and the rising cost of Volcom shirts, then the next day they call into work because they are “sick.”
Later that day, the old man rambles on to Meredith about life. I should mention the old man is played by Joseph Cotten who was in like 40 million movies, this being one of his last. During his conversation with Meredith, she reveals that her mom is in a home and her dad raped his mother at some point. Can married people rape each other? The old man offers to bring the mother there for care. Then they find the dog dead and Meredith narrates that she knows Gabriel did it. The next night, Gabriel comes into Meredith’s room and takes her naked. Lots of bad synth, but alas, it was just a dream. Let’s not forget it’s a dream within a flashback. Then I think Meredith hears the drunken butler raping Large Marge, but they never really clarify. A few nights later Wilfred falls on his head and dies. The butler goes to the basement to get drunk and a whole wine rack falls on him and kills him. Everyone accuses Gabriel of the “accident” and lots of yelling ensues.
Then there’s some more servant people killed in some really hard to see, dark scenes. Meredith sort of falls in love with the estate lawyer guy and writes more shitty letters to her mother. She snoops around a bunch and finds Gabriel dead and then the lawyer guy shows up convincing her she killed everyone and made up the shit about her mother. Lawyer man tells her she was the one raped by her father and that she herself was in the hospital for six years. Then she gets all multiple personality, starts talking to the lawyer like she is the mother, and beats him with a bed post. Then it goes into more voiceover as Meredith claims it was her mother’s spirit inhabiting her and making her kill. The big reveal is that she has been writing all this crap from prison. Of note: This was directed by the same guy who did Stand Alone.
Poster and Box Art: The Betamax art for this is terrible. There’s nothing redeeming about it whatsoever. This movie was also released under the title The House Where Death Lives and that poster isn’t that great, either. In fact, I would go so far as to say there was nothing great about this entire entry. Both titles really don’t have much to do with the actual movie.
Availability: Old ass VHS are fairly easy to come by.