The last review I wrote was for Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, a low budget film from 1971. In that review I explain to readers about a certain kind of fear. It’s a fear that has the potential of grabbing viewers at the very beginning of the film. It is a fear that the movie will be stink-a-roo. It smacks viewers with its mediocrity and lays out a path of uncertainty. Will the path lead to something worthy of 89 minutes of time? Or will this movie be a waste of time? I then argue that viewers should march on ahead and ignore any initial signs of mediocrity. For there will be a pay off. Granted, I never promise the readers a 5 star masterpiece, but I do argue that the film is delightfully scary and, in the end, well made. In short, I argue that viewers should overcome any stereotypes they may have concerning low-budget films. I beg readers to give it a chance.
Today, I present another low-budget film from a similar time period. As with Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, the film may not seem appetizing in the beginning. Within the first several minutes, viewers will be confronted with poor lighting, wooden acting, and a seemingly endless barrage of credits that are normally reserved for the end of the film. Once again, viewers face the question, “Shall I proceed further into this film?” “Shall I be patient and see if Ghosts of Hanley House has anything decent to offer?” Well, let me answer these questions.
TURN BACK!! DO NOT PROCEED INTO THE HAUNTED HOUSE! DEATH WILL FIND YOU! YOU WILL BE BORED TO DEATH!
Seriously, if this were a film student’s final project, it might be worthy of a C. But I don’t think this a student film. I do believe it was presented to a paying audience. Oh boy! There are jump cuts. There are breaches in continuity. The lighting is poor, the exposures suck. There are all kinds of film school no-nos.
It’s a simple story. A group of people spend the night in a house to see if it is haunted. It is. There had been murders on the premise some time ago. That’s about all there is to know. Well, alright, there are a few somewhat interesting scenes pertaining to the haunting. The household awakens in the middle of the night to the sound of galloping horses, that’s cool. A chandelier swings on its chain, that’s pretty neat. Clocks spin backwards, and that’s, uh, neato. There are a couple of other scenes of that are “groovy spooky.” But it’s a waste of time sitting though this flick and waiting for the every once in a while “boo.”
There is much information available about this film. I found it on archive.com, the same place I found Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. Wikipedia and imdb. have very little information about this film. I did some research on Louise Sherrill, the writer and director of this film. It turns out that this is the only film she has directed. She is credited with only two more movies on imdb – as an actress. I was hoping to find something interesting about the history of this film; some unintentional milestone, some kind of hidden trivia treasure. Maybe it was indeed a school project. What if it an unknown John Carpenter worked the lighting, or a then amateur Wes Craven worked the sound. But no, nothing like that. Perhaps this was filmed at a famous house, maybe the house where a real murder took place. Ah but that doesn’t seem likely. I guess there is nothing about this film that is destined for greatness. Therefore I will end this review, honoring the time-tested expression “the less said the better.” It is obscure for a reason. So let it be obscure. With that I write no more!