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

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Really bad acting: Uh, I saw somebody butchered-- yawn.

THE HOUSE THAT VANISHED (aka Scream ... and Die!/1974). Director: Joseph Larraz (Jose Ramon Larraz).

Valerie (Andrea Allan), a model, is driving home with her boyfriend Terry (Alex Leppard) when he stops at a house and says he'll be right back. Valerie goes in search of him, and discovers that he apparently plans to rob the place. Worse, while trying to leave the house they witness a man in the shadows stab another woman to death in a savage attack. The next day Valerie sees that Alex' car, which was left behind along with him when she fled, is parked in front of her apartment house with her book of modeling photos on the front seat. Alex is still missing. So, let's see -- the killer knows what she looks like and where she lives. But does dear little Valerie go to the police? Does she even report Alex missing? No, instead she relates her tale to some friends who tell her not to bother going to the cops, and then has a date with a shy artist named Paul (Karl Lanchbury) who later has sex with his aggressive, middle-aged Aunt Susannah (Maggie Walker). Then there's the new downstairs neighbor who keeps pigeons in his apartment. Aside from a trip to a junkyard that might be near the mysterious house, neither Valerie nor anyone else makes any attempt to find out who the victim or killer is, or even what happened to Terry, who has a young son. Allan walks through the movie as if she were bored, summoning up all the urgency and emotion of, say, a person shopping at the supermarket. Some of the other actors, such as Lanchbury and Walker, are more on the mark, although few of them had too many credits. The shame of it is that The House That Vanished actually has a good plot and premise, but it's undone by too much illogic, a stupid heroine played by a minimally talented actress -- and the identity of the killer is pretty much telegraphed as well. From the United Kingdom.

Verdict: A film that will vanish if it hasn't already. **.

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