Mansion of the Doomed – USA, 1976 – overview and reviews

 
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Mansion of the Doomed  is a 1976 American horror feature film directed by Michael Pataki (Grave of the Vampire) from a script by Frank Ray Perilli (Zoltan… Hound of Dracula, The Best of Sex and Violence) and produced by Charles Band (his second movie before Tourist Trap and a plethora of Full Moon Productions). The film has also been released as The Eyes of Doctor Chaney, House of Blood and Massacre Mansion.

Gory eyeball make-up effects were provided by Stan Winston (Gargoyles, The Bat People). Cinematographer Andrew Davis went on to direct slasher The Final Terror (1981) and many action movies.

The movie stars Richard Basehart, Gloria Grahame (Blood and Lace), Trish Stewart and future horror film icon Lance Henriksen.

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An insane surgeon (Basehart) transplants eyeballs after guilt prompts him to begin removing the eyes of abducted people in hopes of performing operations on his daughter who lost her own in a car accident that he caused…

Review:

Class conflict, hysteria and a focus on eye violence elevate this demented offering well beyond its low budget origins, as does a great cast — Richard Basehart’s Doctor Chaney is especially good: dispassionate, obsessed, sleazy and yet somehow the viewer is compelled to identify with this villain — and the desperation of the kidnapped victims is palpable.

Adrian J Smith, MOVIES & MANIA

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Other reviews:

“Where it really keeps us on the hop is in the juggling of tones, which plays out like a battle for the tone of the future. In one corner is Doctor Chaney, whose very name is a throwback, still transplanting organs in secret as if it might prompt villagers to come a-knocking with torches and pitchforks … In the other corner are the victims in the cage in the cellar with their gruesome empty eye sockets.” Apocalypse Later

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Mansion of the Doomed is a grimy little movie that will hold your attention through to the end. I must admit, it was certainly better than I was expecting it to be. Don’t expect this to be the next great cult movie, but it is definitely a good film and certainly worth spending some time with.” Critical Outcast

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“With a unique feel that straddles both the gothic Halloweeny tradition of pre-70s Hollywood horrors and gritty grindhouse exploitation, the presence of genre greats like Winston, Band, and Henrikson, and the Island of Doctor Moreau-like Boschian basement make this worth seeking out.” Rare Horror

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“It’s hardly one of the great horror movies but it is suitably creepy and surprisingly deep. Basehart had worked for the best, not least Federico Fellini for La strada, so he knew how to play with nuance. His performance here is rather disconnected, but I’m sure that was deliberate, highlighting how disconnected Dr Chaney gets as he descends into a more subtle form of madness than mad doctors usually reach.” Hal C F Astell, Apocalypse Later

“It’s competently made. But why make something like this to begin with? It’s not stylized and intellectual like Eyes Without a Face, and it’s not an exploitation film like Headless Eyes. It’s just ugly, the apparent product of a bunch of sad people in a really bad mood … Actual b&w medical footage is featured, as well as brief popped eye gore effects.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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“The parts of the movie devoted to showing the victims struggling to cope with their blindness while desperately trying to think of a way to escape or get help have an undeniable effectiveness. The sight of these unfortunates with empty eye sockets (provided by famed makeup artist Stan Winston in one of his early efforts) whimpering and bawling and trapped in such a small area is somewhat queasy to see…” The Unknown Movies

“Unqualified revulsion is generated by this crude horror film… The bloody shocking ending of eyeless victims avenging themselves remains one of the sickest in memory.” John Stanley, Creature Features

“I have to offer some amount of applause to Mansion simply for being consistently grim and unapologetically gruesome. One scene of an eyeless woman stumbling about suburbia begging for aid to zero avail is still lodged in my brain, menially shot though it may be.” Kindertrauma

“If produced today, Mansion of the Doomed would be given a faction of the budget (and talent), then slapped with a punny title; something like Eye of the Beholder or Eye See You. With that in mind, it’s easy to appreciate the film for what it is: a flawed (the redundant midsection gets especially tiring) but enjoyable ‘70s B-movie.” Broke Horror Fan

Mansion of the Doomed (1976), a spin on Les yeux sans visage, is doggerel compared to Franju’s poetry, but it has a streak of malicious energy that appeals just the same…” Stephen Thrower, Nightmare USA

Nightmare USA Stephen Thrower FAB Press

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” …terrible remake of George Franju’s Les yeux sans visage…” The Horror Film, Cinebooks

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Also see Crash! (1976)

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Cast and characters:

  • Richard Basehart as Doctor Leonard Chaney
  • Gloria Grahame as Katherine
  • Trish Stewart as Nancy Chaney
  • Lance Henriksen as Doctor Dan Bryan
  • Al Ferrara as Al
  • JoJo D’Amore as Georgio
  • Donna Andresen as Sylvia Porter
  • Marilyn Joi as Miss Mathews
  • Katherine Fitzpatrick as Elevator Victim
  • Katherine Stewart as The Hitchhiker
  • Vic Tayback as Detective Simon
  • Simmy Bow as Ambulance Doctor
  • Arthur Space as Wino

Some image credits: Critical Outcast

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