Great scenery and production design gild this mess of a story inhabited by the most beautiful people you can put on celluloid.
Unrelated groups of people crash in a mansion on a foggy night and find themselves under the threat of murder. Let’s dig into 1972’s “The Murder Mansion”, directed by Francisco Lara Polop!
As I See It
It is hard to find something to dislike visually in this film. The mansion, the cemetery, the dungeon. They are all stunning and perfectly lit. Perhaps no scene is more pleasing from a cinematographer’s perspective than the overhead of all the bodies.
Beyond all that aesthetically pleasing fluff, there is not much else.
A common plot that isn’t well executed nor interesting makes this otherwise fulfilling Giallo/Gothic romp fall as flat as a low-res YouTube video. It’s a bit Scooby-Doo, deflating the one true horror element it had going for it.
I will give it an A+ for the jump scare moment. It’s an oldie — turning over in bed to find a ghost beside you — but it was proper creepy. Hell of a dubbed scream as well.
Lastly, the satanic/mystic art was really cool, and I wish there was some more information behind it because it wasn’t something done from stereotypes but from knowledge of the mystic arts, or so it seems.
Evelyn Stewart (Martha Clinton) was in Fulci’s The Psychic also known as the mouthful Murder to the Tune of the Seven Black Notes.
Her resume is not long but Lisa Leonardi (Laura) found herself in a couple of Sergio Martino films including All the Colors of the Dark.
Of Gratuitous Nature
There are a massive amount of characters that are thrown at you very quickly with little introduction. The fact that a handful of them look the same doesn’t help track who is who. That made it hard to follow any semblance of a story, so the scenery had to be relied on for any type of enjoyment.
My goodness, the casting director really went for the most beautiful people they could find. They were successful because every woman and young fella in this film is gorgeous. Lisa Leonardi (Laura) takes the lead thanks to her insanely perfect bone structure and flawless skin.
Ripe for a Remake
It’s got a bit of a Clue vibe to it, which I can’t get mad at. That is by far one of my most-watched films as a kid, and I always felt it had a horror element to it that complemented the comedy. Something similar, with more emphasized horror, could be really rad.
No progeny to report.
Where to Watch
Released as part of their “Forgotten Gialli” series, Volume Three, Vinegar Syndrome painstakingly put out a new 4k scan with hard-to-find elements such as the Spanish soundtrack. It is available along with Autopsy and Crazy Desires of a Murderer. You can also stream on Tubi, Night Flight Plus, or Plex.