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House Of Terrors (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • House Of Terrors (Mondo Macabro) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: January 10th, 2023.
    Director: Hajime Satô
    Cast: Kô Nishimura, Yûko Kusunoki, Shinjirô Ebara, Masumi Harukawa
    Year: 1965
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    House Of Terrors – Movie Review:

    Director Hajime Satô’s 1965 film, House Of Terrors, introduces us to a woman named Yoshie (Yûko Kusunoki) just as she is saying her final goodbye to her husband, recently locked away in a mental hospital, as his body, laid in a coffin, is laid to rest after being cremated. From here, Yoshie comes to learn that her dearly departed, before he passed, purchased a massive old house out in a remote part of the country, a house which she has inherited.

    Curious about this house she previously knew nothing about, Yoshie gathers together a small group of friends to accompany her to the home where they meet the caretaker, a hunchback (Kô Nishimura), and marvel over some of the more unusual decorative choices like the giant statue of what looks to be a demon placed right in the middle of the main entrance. The caretaker tells the new arrivals strange stories about the home’s history, but in grand horror movie fashion, no one pays him too much mind.

    That being said, shortly after they make themselves at home, Yoshie and company start first hearing and then seeing things in the creepy old house. Before long, various parties have convinced themselves that the place is haunted, a strategy that is turned on its head when the mistress of Yoshie’s late husband arrives on site, hoping to collect a cash inheritance she believes that she is rightfully owed.

    A really solid haunted house story from the same man who directed Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell and The Terror Beneath The Sea, House Of Terrors was clearly influenced by the Italian gothic horror pictures of the sixties, an influence that it seems to wear quite proudly on its sleeves. It’s a wonderfully weird picture that’s rife with old school atmosphere and quirky characters, and Satô does a fantastic job of building up tension and suspense to the point where the movie delivers a really satisfyingly eerier finale.

    The performances are pretty solid across the board. Yûko Kusunoki is likeably enough in the lead, creating a genuinely sympathetic character who is understandably perplexed and entirely stressed out by the events that take place in the movie. We feel for her character and she’s very good in the role. However, it’s Kô Nishimura, who is instantly recognizable from Kurosawa films like Yojimbo, The Bad Sleep Well and High And Low, who really steals the show. His character is as bizarre as he is diabolical and he really throws himself into the role, especially in the second half of the movie where what was laid down in the first half of the picture really comes to a boil.

    House Of Terrors – Blu-ray Review:

    House Of Terrors arrives on a region free 50GB disc and is taken from a brand new 2K restoration of the original 35mm negative. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and, overall, it looks quite nice. The black and white image does show some minor print damage throughout, but it’s just small specks and the like here and there, nothing more than that and nothing especially distracting. Contrast looks really good, we get good black levels and a nice greyscale. Detail is strong throughout and there are no problems with any noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems of note.

    The only audio option for the feature is a 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track in the film’s original Japanese language. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. Sound quality is also very good. The track is properly balanced and free of any hiss or distortion. The score has some nice depth to it and the sound effects have a decent amount of punch behind them.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary by film scholar Tom Mes that covers all of the bases. In this talk, Mes goes over Hajime Satô’s career and filmography in a fair bit of detail, and also offers up plenty of information about the cast and crew that worked on the picture. Additionally, he details the film’s distribution over the years, how different aspects of Japanese culture influenced the final version of the movie, where the story pulls from other haunted house projects that have been made over the decades and the obvious gothic horror influences that are on display throughout the duration of the movie.

    The disc also includes a new introduction four minute to the film by Patrick Macias, author of Tokyoscope, titled Hunchback, Pit Or House? that talks about what sets it apart from other Japanese horror movies of the day and the obvious influences that worked their way into the movie. Macias also shows up in the four minute Silent Waves, which serves as a brief but worthwhile look at the horror movies that Toei was making in the sixties and seventies.

    Finishing up the extra on the disc are an original theatrical trailer, a Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection options.

    House Of Terrors - The Final Word:

    If you’ve ever wondered what a Japanese take on a classic Italian gothic horror picture might turn out like, House Of Terrors is the movie for you. It’s a well-made and, at times, enjoyably spooky picture with some memorable set pieces and characters and solid atmosphere and production value. The Blu-ray release from Mondo Macabro offers the film up in a very nice edition with a strong presentation and some decent extra features as well. Recommended!


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized House Of Terrors Blu-ray screen caps!

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