Malpertuis aka The Legend of Doom House is a 1971 Belgian fantasy horror feature film directed by Harry Kümel (Daughters of Darkness), based on the 1943 novel of the same name. The movie stars Orson Welles, Susan Hampshire, Michel Bouquet and Mathieu Carrière.
Malpertuis is the name of an old, rambling mansion that is in reality a labyrinth where characters from Greek mythology are imprisoned by the bedridden Cassavius (Orson Welles). He manages to keep them (as well as his nephew and niece) prisoners even after his death, through a binding testament.
As Jan, the nephew, (Carrière) unravels the mystery, he discovers that he cannot escape the house because Malpertuis is far more significant than he was led to believe…
” …it is fun to see Orson Welles as the bed-ridden uncle, and the movie has a unique visual sense about it. Still, it is an art movie, and if you don’t like art movies, you might want to pass this one by; if you do, you might want to take a peek at this disorienting, slightly disturbing and sometimes infuriating movie.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings
“Visually the film is gorgeous, using colors and visual symbolism very effectively and framed in a rather painterly method ensuring the movie looks fantastic from start to finish. If the film is a little too heady for some audiences, so be it, but for those who like a little art with their horror, Malpertuis is about as good as it gets.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“There are several endings and twists, each twisting back into the fantasy world, and the set design is unique and atmospheric, but it doesn’t really come together from a narrative point of view.” The Worldwide Celluloid Massacre
Cast and characters:
Orson Welles … Cassavius
Susan Hampshire … Nancy / Euryale / Alice / Nurse / Charlotte
Michel Bouquet … Charles Dideloo
Mathieu Carrière … Jan
Jean-Pierre Cassel … Lampernisse
Daniel Pilon … Mathias Crook
Walter Rilla … Eisengott
Dora van der Groen … Sylvie Dideloo
Charles Janssens … Philarette
Sylvie Vartan … Bets
Jet Naessens … Eleonora
Cara Van Wersch … Rosalie
Jenny Van Santvoort … Elodie
Fanny Winkler … Mother Griboin
Robert Lussac … Griboin (as Bob Storm)