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(Review originally written at 4 March 2008)

The atmosphere is amazing and about as good as it can get within a genre movie such as this one is. It's the sort of dark and uneasy atmosphere, that at the same time feels also really natural, which makes it perhaps all the more creepy and effective. The movie is definitely helped by its most excellent cinematography and eerie musical score by Rick Wilkins, that is a great example for its genre. Who is this man and why did he composed for so few movies?

It's truly an horror movie that is made great by its atmosphere. This also means that the horror within this movie is more implying than anything else really. This means that the movie is filled with mostly returning eerie sounds, sudden opening doors and other strange unnatural things that are occurring. So a lot of things are also being implied without actually showing too much. These type of horror movies are often among the best and most effective within its genre. The movie also does a good job at making the haunted house and all of its rooms and elements within it a true character within the movie.

It also helps the movie that it still has- and is made in a typical '70's style, despite the fact that this movie was released in 1980. The style of this movie should remind you of other genre classics from the '70's such as "The Omen" and "Don't Look Now" for instance.

The movie of course also gets uplifted by the fact that the movie its main character is being played by George C. Scott. Melvyn Douglas also plays a role. Douglas is mostly known for his roles in '40's movies so seeing him in this movie, in the 80's, was quite a pleasant blast from the past. Also Jean Marsh makes an appearance within this movie.

It's definitely true though that the movie sort of gets 'worse' and looses some of its power throughout the movie. The first two-thirds is truly excellent and basically couldn't had been better, with its excellent implying horror and atmosphere. In the last third the mystery already gets sort of explained, which of course takes away some of the tension of the movie. You can say that the movie is perhaps overwritten and the movie would had been better, or at least more effective, without a cleverly written and constructed story that explains its mysterious things and all. The movie could had been a real true perfect genre classic but it's now more sort of a semi-classic and semi-must-see.

Quite a shame that this movie just isn't any better known, since its definitely among the best and most classy genre movies.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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