By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Old people become killers.
Senior citizens living in a rundown apartment building are shocked to learn that they will be evicted so that their place can be torn down and turned into an office complex. They resist the move and devise a scheme in which they will create ‘accidents’ at the construction site that will cause fatalities and hopefully impede the building process. They even do away with the project developer (Douglas Fowley) by drowning him in hardening cement, but then one of them, Mrs. Loomis, (Ruth McDevitt) begins to suffer from a guilty conscience. She considers going to the authorities, but the others try to stop her, which soon creates deceit and murder from within the group.
Shot on-location in Cincinnati the film has a neat offbeat concept, but it’s unable to execute it to its full potential. It tries too hard to mix in too many different story elements and shifts awkwardly between drama, dark comedy, horror and even social commentary. The result is a mixed bag that never gets off the ground. There are a few interesting moments, but the first half is slow and barely seems like a horror movie at all.
Part of the problem is that the deaths aren’t novel. Outside of the one where Fowley gets submerged in cement the rest are run-of-the-mill. We never see how the seniors are able to create the ‘accidents’ at the construction site and it seemed hard to believe that they would’ve been agile enough to get around inside a dark building, late at night to set up the booby traps to begin with. It would’ve been fun had the killings been caused by using items connected with old age like bashing the victims over the head with a cane, running them down with a walker, or forcing them to swallow a bottle of Geritol. The filmmakers work hard to create sympathy for the seniors, but portraying them as creepy, scary and threatening would’ve made it more edgy.
Paula Truman is good in the lead as well as Ruth McDevitt as the granny with mixed emotions. Fowley though is a bore as the heavy as his caricature of a brash, ego-driven developer is too one-dimensional and he looks just as elderly as the rest of the cast. Hiring a much younger actor to play the part would’ve created more of an interesting contrast.
Larry Yust’s direction is competent and helps keep the proceedings palatable, but as a whole it’s undercooked and undeserving of the cult classic status that they were clearly hoping for.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: September 29, 1974
Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes
Director: Larry Yust
Studio: AVCO Embassy Pictures