’13 keys open the doors to the house haunted by the living dead!’
House of the Damned is a 1963 American horror film produced and directed by Maury Dexter (The Day Mars Invaded Earth) from a screenplay written by Harry Spalding (Witchcraft; The Earth Dies Screaming; Curse of the Fly).
The movie stars Ron Foster, Merry Anders (Women of the Prehistoric Planet), Richard Crane, Erika Peters. Richard Kiel (Eegah; “Jaws” in The Spy Who Loved Me) has a minor role.
Architect Scott Campbell (Ron Foster) and his wife (Merry Anders) go to survey an old mansion, where the previous tenant disappeared. Strange noises, eerie sights and vanishing keys ruin their attempt at a wedding anniversary. Events worsen after Scott’s employer (Richard Crane) arrives, and his wife is kidnapped…
“One wouldn’t expect a damned house to be so quaint, but that’ll be its enduring quality for me. From its folksy lead couple to its simple thrills, it really feels like a 50s movie out of place in the 60s, which were both growing more violent and more garish with their horrors. But I imagine it made for a fine B-movie experience…” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!
“It looks like an old detective TV show, though it’s shot in CinemaScope and has some pretty good black-and-white cinematography. So, it looks like a good old detective TV show. It feels a little bit like one, too, and if you’d shaved some minutes off its runtime, you’d have a perfectly serviceable episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Instead, you’ve got a feature that feels bloated even at only a few minutes over an hour.” Orrin Grey, Innsmouth Free Press
” … obviously put together to fill the bottom half of a double bill, and that’s fine because it certainly plays like a second feature, kinda resembling a William Castle production. Maury Dexter … does the best he can with a one dimensional story, using lots of low lit photography to create an eerie mood, and hurling a few cheap shocks across the screen…” George Reis, DVD Drive-in
“It should have been a TV episode instead of a feature film. But everything holds up, including decent performances from the generally unknown actors.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers
“This odd little haunted-house movie takes a while to get interesting, but there is a bizarre pay off.” Michael Weldon, The Psychotronic Video Guide
“As directed by Dexter … the old formula comes up fresh with a disarmingly touching twist at the end…” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror
“I found this film oddly intriguing in a quietly uncanny and freakish way. Not frightening, not spooky, yet oddly absorbing because of the fantastic cinematography of John M. Nickolaus (Night of the Blood Beast, The Day Mars Invaded Earth)…” The Last Drive In [click link to see an array of screen shots]
Cast and characters:
- Ron Foster [as Ronald Foster] … Scott Campbell
- Merry Anders … Nancy Campbell
- Richard Crane … Joseph Schiller
- Erika Peters … Loy Schiller
- Dal McKennon … Mr. Quinby
- Georgia Schmidt … Priscilla Rochester
- Stacey Winters … Nurse
- Richard Kiel … The Giant – Eegah
- Ayllene Gibbons … The Fat Woman
- John Gilmore … The Legless Man
- Frieda Pushnik … The Legless Girl
Filmed at Greystone Mansion, in Beverly Hills, California, seen in many films, including Picture Mommy Dead, Phantom of the Paradise, Eraserhead, Flowers in the Attic, Death Becomes Her, Ghostbusters II and The Witches of Eastwick.