The House That Cried Murder (1973)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: The bride goes nutzo.

Despite a low budget this is an intriguing horror film with a unique vision. Barbara (Robin Strasser) is a young headstrong woman who designs an ominous looking, modernistic home, which she then has built. She plans on moving into it with her fiancé David (Arthur Roberts) who is caught fooling around on their wedding day, which sends Barbara into reclusion. Soon David begins experiencing strange occurrences, which leads him back to the house where an odd climatic sequence ensues.

This film stands out from the other low budget, cardboard horror movies of the 70’s simply because director Jean-Marie Pelissie shows a good understanding of the genre and how to effectively create eerie sequences. The house itself is an odd spectacle that looks like something designed by Frank Lloyd Wright while drunk. It’s erected in a large, empty field which gives it a very pronounced presence. The inside of the place was unfinished, and Pelisse uses the large windows of the home to casts unusual shadows along its white plastered walls and gives it a spooky look  as the camera goes spinning around it. Some of the imagery used during a nightmare sequence is equally creepy.

Strasser herself is quite frightening and flies into authentic looking rages easily. One good segment has her walking in front of all the wedding guests wearing a blood stained gown while behaving erratically. She then runs off with only hints that she may or may not be lurking in the shadows, which nicely taps into the fear of the unknown and mysterious.

The unfaithful groom is a good character with all the qualities that you love to hate. He is good looking, but amoral. He uses people while climbing the social ladder, but is quite dumb in the process. He tells his bride that he will be gone “for only a minute” and then has the audacity to go to an upstairs room of the house where they are having the wedding party and fools around with his former girlfriend, but doesn’t think to lock the bedroom door. When he gets his eventual comeuppance you have no problem seeing it.

As Strasser’s father John Beal is unimpressive. He is supposed to be a man of money and power, but instead comes off like a wimpy old man. Iva Jean Saraceni,,who portrays David’s old girlfriend Ellen, looks too much like Strasser, which doesn’t help.

Although this film has potential the low production values almost destroy it. The lighting is flat and certain segments are so dark you can barely see what is happening. Many scenes were filmed in small, cramped looking rooms with tacky props in the background. The music used during the scary scenes is good, but the soundtrack played over the rest of the film sounds like a bad rendition of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

If you’re into cheap 70’s horror flicks then this is one you should check out. It definitely has some distinctive moments and is an interesting forerunner to A Nightmare on Elm Street since Barbara terrorizes David and his girlfriend through their dreams.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Alternate Title: The Bride

Released: December 14, 1973

Runtime: 1Hour 25Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Jean-Marie Pelissie

Studio: Golden Gate Productions

Available: VHS, DVD

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