Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED

Irene confronts the headmistress about the missing students









THE HOUSE THAT SCREAMED (aka La residencia/1969). Director: Narcisco Ibanez Serrador.

"None of these girls are any good!"

In this dubbed Spanish movie, Madame Forneau (Lilli Palmer) is headmistress of a school for "difficult" girls that functions more as a reformatory. Forneau's idea of discipline is to have one of the girls whip another when the latter talks back to her. Her son, Luis (John Moulder Brown) is fascinated by the school girls, and carrying on a light romance with one of them, Teresa (Cristina Galbo). One of the more interesting students is Irene (Mary Maude), who functions as Forneau's right-hand, tracking down girls who try to escape, doing the whipping, and hitting on at least one young lady. [The film seems to have a rather antiquated attitude regarding "evil lesbians."] The big problem, however, as Irene points out to the headmistress, is that several students have gone missing in the past few months, and are never heard from again. What neither woman apparently knows is that someone has been killing these "runaways" and hiding their bodies ... The House That Screamed has atmosphere to spare and seems to have been filmed in a wonderfully creepy and somewhat dilapidated old manor that adds immeasurably to its otherwise limited impact. There's not much flair to the murder sequences, but the ending packs a small wallop. Palmer is fine as the cold headmistress, and the girls are at the very least enthusiastic, with Maude making the most of her vivid portrayal of Irene.

Verdict:  So-so thriller with some compelling sequences. **1/2.

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