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This review is from: The Mad Room (DVD)
I've finally seen this movie again after years of just having a faint memory of it, so I've now got to decide if it lived up to my memory...well it pretty much does. The story concerns Stella Stevens as Ellen, a young woman who's impending marriage is interrupted by news that her younger brother and sister are being released from an asylum where they were committed after the murder of both their parents. Now considered sane, they are handed over into Ellen's custody, despite her misgivings, and the three of them move into the home of Ellen's fiancée's mother in law, played by Shelley Winters, which in turn gives HER major misgivings. And this being a horror film, it isn't long before there's a new murder...
So what still works is the general sense of unease, mostly generated by great performances by the two younger children, played by Michael Burns and Barbara Sammeth. They portray just the right amount of inscrutability, and keep you guessing as to their actual mental stability! Stella Stevens plays Ellen with lots of wide eyed exasperation which suits the role well, and Shelley Winters does her usual job of playing an alcoholic floozy as the landlady/mother-in-law. The overall tone of the story is well handled, and the climax still works. Gore is low but a couple of bloody scenes still stand out, and the best part is still what happens when a dopey dog sniffs out a dead body - great fun. All in all it's a great compact little thriller with some very good performances...check out the ladies charity party when one of the visitors gets a little too drunk - great cameo here by Beverley Garland - which ends in unexpected tragedy that none of the main characters saw coming! I'd love to see this get an official DVD release, but it seems unlikely, and it's hardly ever shown on TV any more either...luckily we now have the "on demand" release, which I strongly recommend for people happy to take a risk or just nostalgia buffs who fancy a bit of twitchy suburban horror from 1969