The Murder Mansion is a 1972 Spanish-Italian mystery horror thriller film about a group of people stranded at an old house by a heavy fog.
Directed by Francisco Lara Polop (The Monk, 1990) from a screenplay co-written by Luis G. de Blain and Antonio Troiso [as Antonio Troisio], based on de Blain’s story.
The Mundial Film (Spain)-Tritone Cinematografica (Italy) co-production stars Andrés Resino (The Werewolf vs. the Vampire), Lisa Leonardi (All the Colours of the Dark), Franco Fantasia (Seven Blood-Stained Orchids; Knife of Ice), Alberto Dalbés (Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein), Yelena Samarina (The Werewolf vs. the Vampire), Jorge Rigaud, Evelyn Stewart (Seven Notes in Black; Knife of Ice; Spirits of Death), Eduardo Fajardo (Nightmare City; Lisa and the Devil) and Analía Gadé.
The Murder Mansion opens with various people separately travelling across the countryside. A few minutes is devoted to allowing us to get to know them and we quickly discover that they are all familiar giallo types. There’s the cold businessman, the lecherous man with the beard and the driving gloves, and, of course, the free-spirited young lovers who have just met. There’s also the emotionally unstable, Elsa (Analia Gade).
When a thick fog rolls in, Elsa is the first of the travellers to find herself stranded outside of a foreboding mansion. She thinks she sees two shadowy figures in the fog — a woman and a hulking man dressed as a chauffeur — pursuing her. As she runs through the fog, she runs into the young lovers, who are also similarly stranded. They decide to seek refuge inside the mansion and … guess what? It turns out that all the other travellers have decided to seek refuge there as well!
It turns out that the mansion is looked after by a housekeeper named Martha (Ida Galli, aka Evelyn Stewart). Martha explains that the former owner of the mansion was killed years ago in an automobile accident, along with her chauffeur. (Hmmm….) Martha also goes on to explain that the village around the mansion is deserted because the villagers became convinced that the woman and her chauffeur were vampires. Martha then invites everyone to spend the night.
As everyone prepares to turn in for the night, they can’t help but notice a few strange things. First off, why is every bedroom decorated with a disturbing painting? And why does the painting of the former, now deceased, owner of the house look so much like Martha?
As you probably already guessed, a mysterious figure soon starts to prowl around the house, killing the travellers one by one. Meanwhile, Elsa continues to have her nervous breakdown and soon starts to have flashbacks to some unspeakable acts that were committed by her father…
The Murder Mansion is an enjoyable little giallo, one that is full of creepy atmosphere, twisty plot developments, and memorably strange characters. It’s actually a lot of fun to watch as our heroes creep around the mansion and try to put together all of the clues.
As far as blood, gore, and nudity are concerned, The Murder Mansion is actually remarkably tame by the standards of Italian (and, for that matter, Spanish) thrillers, which makes it an appropriate introduction to the genre for people who may not have previously seen many Giallo films.
Lisa Marie Bowman, guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
“Thanks to the soundtrack, a feminine malevolence pervades the whole thing. Even with a slow startup that makes it a little hard to get into at first, I’ve come to like the way the movie is structured and what many have already pointed out as a Scooby-Doo style story.” At the Mansion of Madness
“There’s a history of vampires in the house, the previous owner was a witch and hey — this is starting to feel like an adult version of Scooby-Doo with better-looking ladies. That’s not a bad thing. But if you’ve never watched a badly dubbed giallo-esque film before, don’t expect any of this to make a lick of sense.” B&S About Movies
“There’s a bit of a Gaslight/The Screaming Skull thing going on, but gathering all these people at the house, most of them strangers who yet are essential to the plan depends on a whole lot of coincidence that strains credulity. A vampiric witch rising from the grave to claim more victims seems more plausible. The movie’s not terrible, but it’s not great either.” D:contexualized:
” …Polop sometimes opens a scene on a detail rather than with an establishing shot, to momentarily make us that bit more confused as to our location and whose perspectives we are sharing. The film’s colour schemes is also interesting. The mansion interiors are dominated by orange, the exteriors of its surroundings by blue, thus creating a striking visual contrast between the two…” Giallo Fever
“…this gothic giallo is actually quite good fun, and whilst the central mystery is as hokey as they come it’s still intriguing enough to keep you hooked throughout […] It goes without saying that nothing is what it seems, not with a huge inheritance up for grabs. There are liberal steals from past gothic horrors of yore, especially Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath (1963)…” Hysteria Lives!
” …this one is most definitely in line with the Spanish Gothic tradition, a convoluted but entertaining psychodrama with lots of spooky trappings and only moderate amounts of bloodshed and sexiness compared to its European neighbors. The most Italian element here is definitely the terrific, wild music score by Marcello Giombini […] If you love ’70s Euro horror, this one’s a real treat…” Mondo Digital
“Rife with plenty of impressive gothic atmosphere, there are large stretches of the picture that don’t particularly feel like a giallo picture but it gets close enough at times that we won’t complain too much. The photography is excellent across the board and the creepy old mansion setting, with its eerie dungeon-esque basement, really is the perfect place to stage a horror picture.” Rock! Shock! Pop!
“The film is deliciously twisted and though its Scooby-Doo plot ultimately proves far less intricate than Elsa’s frequent flashbacks suggest, Polop sustains the tension masterfully via close-ups on flickering candles and eyeballs, strange noises in the dark and an ethereally unsettling turn from giallo regular Evelyn Stewart (real name: Ida Galli).” The Spinning Image
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