The House That Screamed – Spain, 1969 – reviews

‘Only the killer knows why and how and who is next!’

The House That Screamed – original title: La Residencia – is a 1969 Spanish horror feature film directed by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador (Who Can Kill a Child?). The movie stars Lili Palmer as Señora Fourneau the headmistress of a French boarding school for young women. It was released under various English titles including The Boarding School.

Plot:

In a 19th-century French boarding school for ‘troubled’ girls, Headmistress Señora Fourneau (Lili Palmer) forbids her teenage son Luis (John Moulder Brown) near any of the girls, finding none of them good enough for him. A series of murders begin taking place after the latest arrival of the a new student, Teresa (Cristina Galbó) and Fourneau’s assistant Irene (Mary Maude).

Fourneau investigates these deaths eventually leading her to the attic where she finds that Luis’ frustrated desires have forced psychotic urges to the surface, compelling him to stalk the hapless girls to acquire body parts in order to create his own “ideal woman”. Luis then locks up his mother with his new creation so that his mother can get acquainted with his future “daughter-in-law”…

Reviews:

“The glossy veneer of the movie masks a cynical sexploitative approach, making it more offensively misogynistic than Jesus Franco’s Sadean pictures which do not seek to cloak sexploitation under a veneer of art respectability and gestures towards psychological realism.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

The House That Screamed is a seminal work that’s inspired surprisingly little critical analysis, or even fanish coverage, at least in the US. Yet its prescient conceit (an unseen slasher in an all-girl’s boarding school) adumbrates both Suspiria (likewise set in an all-girls boarding school) and a decade of slasher-in-a- sorority films.” Thomas M. Sipos, Communist Vampires

” … excellently captures the oppressive sexual needs of the girls with erotic artsy intercutting.” John Stanley, Creature Features

“Serrador’s take on the subject [girls’ schools] benefits from his expert manipulation of suspense and a hothouse atmosphere of adolescent desire that could be cut with the proverbial knife. It’s an atmosphere that, notwithstanding Serrador’s international aspirations, had obvious significance for Spanish audiences under Franco. Mme Fourneau is a repressive despot who runs the school with military precision…” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic, Sigma Books, 2016

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” …indulges in a full 45 minutes of character development, flagellation, shower room sexual tension, and peeping tom antics before the knife-wielding killer finally makes an appearance in one of the most startling pre-slasher killings of Euro cinema. The expert scope photography makes marvelous use of the baroque settings, often filing the girls across the screen with each one’s expression perfectly conveying where she lies in the academic food chain.” Mondo Digital

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Pressbook images courtesy of Zombos’ Closet

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Cast and characters:

  • Lilli Palmer … Sra. Fourneau
  • Cristina Galbó … Teresa
  • John Moulder-Brown … Luis (as John Moulder Brown)
  • Maribel Martín … Isabelle
  • Mary Maude … Irene
  • Cándida Losada … Srta. Desprez
  • Pauline Challoner … Catalina (as Pauline Challenor)
  • Tomás Blanco … Pedro Baldié
  • Víctor Israel … Brechard (as Victor Israel)
  • Teresa Hurtado … Andrea
  • María José Valero … Elena
  • Conchita Paredes … Susana
  • Ana María Pol … Claudia
  • Mari Carmen Duque … Julia (as María del Carmen Duque)
  • Paloma Pagés … Cecilia

Filming locations:

Comillas, Cantabria, Spain

Technical details:

99 minutes | Eastmancolor | mono

 

Related:

Who Can Kill a Child? – Spain, 1976

Narciso Ibañez Serrador – filmmaker

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