Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Shuttered Room
Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Shuttered Room - 1967, Unrated
by Tom Doty
Fans of the macabre will absolutely love this moody take on the "Thing in the Attic" genre. It also ranks as one of the better H.P.
Lovecraft adaptations and will appeal to those on a budget as this disc includes a second feature and is priced to sell.
The story begins with an eerie flashback sequence that sets the tone. A young girl tries to fall asleep in her creepy bedroom but is soon disturbed by an ominous being, which escapes from its room in the attic. The form is all the more scary, as we never see it (the camera acts as the creature and it's an effective bit (that was done to perfection by John Carpenter in "Halloween"). All you see is that it clutches the chain, which imprisons it. You also get to hear its labored breathing but that's par for the course.
The dream belongs to Susannah Whately (pronounced Wheatly by some actors and Waitly by others). She's grown up now and is heading back to her child hood home after being away since the age of six, when her parents perished in a fire. The dream is only the first sign that she ought to turn around but her husband, Mike, urges her on. Turns out her home is nestled next to an old mill on a remote island in New England.
The only way across is by boat and once they're there they'll be trapped. They go anyway, but they're from New York.
Once on the island they get on the only road and are promptly run off it by locals who are playing a bizarre, and highly dangerous, version of water skiing. The game involves standing on a wagon and holding onto a rope, for dear life, that's connected to the rear bumper of a truck. The aim is just to hang on as your friends, or enemies, proceed to tear down the road until they stop in town where the rider is then whipped towards a barbed wire fence finish, strangely this sport never caught on.
Once they arrive in town where everyone warns them of the Whately curse. They are told that death lurks in Susannah's home. They proceed there anyway. They stop by to visit Aunt Agatha. She relates how much she loved looking after Susannah but wished that she'd stayed in New York where she would be safe (apparently Aunt Agatha never visited the "Big Apple" herself).
That afternoon Mike goes into town for groceries and locals attack him. Meanwhile a local named Ethan assaults Susannah. It is actually his gang that is menacing Mike to keep him distracted.
Despite all of this they stay the night and are soon face to face with the unseen creature. Plenty of people die as a result (some quite gruesomely) but it never would have been possible had these people actually been interested in their own self-preservation-you gotta love a horror movie.
This is routine horror stuff but the director, David Greene, hits it out of the park by treating it like his "Citizen Kane." He employs a ton of camera tricks and moody music to great effect with the end result being that you keep forgetting how stupid the characters are for sticking around. He gets help from a solid cast that includes Carol Lynley and Gig Young (as the naive New Yorkers) and British bad boy Oliver Reed (who has a field day as the evil Ethan). You also get a second feature titled "It." This one offers Roddy McDowall as a museum curator with a mommy fetish. He also has a killer statue that knocks off his enemies. The question becomes can it go toe to toe with a British military that's not afraid to use nuclear weapons? It's a solid B-feature.
Best Line: " She believes in all those stories about New Yorkers eating children."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: email@example.com.