BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
It is a movie best left for a super gloomy day. Only the mood created by the sound of falling raindrops and a sky of swollen clouds could satisfy the dark dwellings of The House That Screamed (aka La Residencia). There’s no denying that this creaky old Spanish flick – even if it is revered by horror hounds for its saturated tones of uneasiness - would benefit from such environmental factors.
Be warned: this is not a spooky house flick. No, the screams that go on in this French boarding school for troubled girls is more of a warped and physical nature. Sure, some girls runaway from sadistic headmistress (Lilli Palmer) and her sternly-governed school, but, for the purposes of this S&M-minded feature, we already know that things are not what they seem. There are voices from inside the walls. The headmistress’ strange son (John Moulder-Brown) follows the girls around (when he isn’t busy secretly rendezvousing with them) and spies on them without their knowledge and, because a headmistress needs her favorites, the girls themselves seem already pitted one against the other.The strange disappearances; howerver, are another matter altogether.
And then along comes the newest recruit into the boarding school, Teresa (Cristina Galbó), who – along with the headmistress’ assistant Irene (Mary Maude) – begins to seek out answers to the disappearances in the boarding school. The truth is a shocking revelation about just how far a mother’s influence upon her son goes. And no one is ready for that big reveal.
Directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador (Who Could Kill a Child?), The House That Screamed is best remembered for two extended sequences inside the spookiest corners of the boarding school and its ending, which is a total mindbender. These sequences are cloaked in atmosphere as girls go fumbling through the dark – lured toward doom by sounds and voices.
Much of Serrandor’s first horror film is a tension-filled movie that – as it is rumored to be the film that gave Dario Argento the inspiration for Susperia – never once trips over its own feet. The pacing is slow and deliberate and the scares are authentic, awoken mainly from the depths due to the slow nature of the film. It doesn’t go overboard with the violence, leaving much of that for a very effective girl-on-girl thrashing that is as focused as it is terrifying.
Complete with a creepy caretaker, The House That Screamed is low-rent drive-in material for sure, but its heavy drapes are exquisite and its wooden floors creak with eerie purpose. It is now available in an extended unrated blu-ray thanks to Scream Factory.
Hold on tight, ghouls and boils, your questions will be answered, but are you prepared to learn the truth buried in the walls of this boarding school? Few are.
MPAA Rating: PG.
Runtime: 99 mins
Director: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Writer: Narciso Ibáñez Serrador
Cast: Lilli Palmer, Cristina Galbó, John Moulder-Brown
Genre: Horror | Thriller
Tagline: One by one, they will die.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I must run this establishment With a Firm Hand"
Theatrical Distributor: American International Pictures
Release Date: July 21, 1971
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: December 27, 2016
Synopsis: An abusive headmistress runs a secluded school for wayward girls in 19th century France, whose students are "disappearing" under mysterious circumstances after dark.
Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - December 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Released on 1080p by Scream Factory, the HD presentation is indeed a step up from the any version we’ve seen previously of this film. Colors are saturated a bit more. Black levels are thickened. There’s a nice new coat of paint to much of the boarding school – even if the film is extended by less than stellar prints. The rooms are detailed. The grounds surrounding the school are solid green and, if you look hard enough, you will see texture through the grain in some of the scenes. The turn-of-last-century clothing is detailed and certainly interesting to look at; all those lines (yes, even back there) seem chiseled a bit deeper thanks to this expressive transfer. The sound is presented in a solid DTS-mono track and the picture is a bold 2.35:1.
Essentially, Scream Factory is calling it good with TWO versions of the film included with this release. There’s the U.S. Theatrical cut (neutered by censors) and the extended version with standard definition inserts. Also included is an archival interview with John Moulder-Brown about the film and an archival interview session with Mary Maude. A stills gallery is also included.
- Two Versions Of The Film: Theatrical Version (In HD, 94 min.) And Extended Version (In HD With Standard Definition Inserts, 104 min.)
- Interview With Actor John Moulder-Brown
- Film Festival Q&A With Actress Mary Maude
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Radio Spots
- Still Gallery