Movie Review: House of the Damned (1963)

Synopsis: An architect and his wife are hired to conduct a survey of a "castle" built by an eccentric heiress in California after the tenant that had been leasing the property disappeared. While there, the couple notices some strange occurrences that begin to escalate when they are joined by an attorney and his unhappy wife.

Who's in it? The movie stars Ron Foster, Merry Anders, Richard Crane, Erika Peters and Dal McKennon.

Review: I don't remember when I added this film to my library, but came across it this morning while looking for something to watch and decided to give it a try. For the most part, the movie exceeded my expectations but, ultimately, wound up being a bit of a disappointment.

Overall, I thought the premise was a good one. From the time the architect, Scott (Foster), and his wife, Nancy (Anders), arrived at the house, it was obvious there was someone there with them, starting with the dead end sign being replaced while they were gone. This ultimately escalated into what I thought was a halfway decent mystery about who was with them and what their intentions were, especially when the film eventually rules out the two most likely suspects.

I am also going to admit, some of the scenes were surprisingly creepy, starting with a strange shape crawling in their bedroom at night and including the headless woman in one one of the rooms. I didn't know if there was something supernatural going on in the house or if it was an elaborate hoax orchestrated by a yet-to-be-named occupant. In fact, at one point, I found myself wondering if maybe Nancy and the lawyer, Joseph (Crane) were secretly trying to rekindle an old romance by using the house to get rid of their respective spouses, especially when Joseph's wife (Peters) went missing.

Unfortunately, while most of the movie was good, I thought the ending just didn't do the film justice. Sure, it was an interesting twist that I didn't see coming. However, it reminded me of something I would have seen on Scooby Doo! That, in my opinion, was a major letdown considering there were so many other possible (and better) ways this film could have ended.

Final Opinion: If it weren't for the cartoon-like ending, I think this movie could have been a very memorable thriller/mystery. Unfortunately, I hated the ending so much, it kind of ruined the rest of the film for me as well.

My Grade: C


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