Death by Invitation (1971)

Article #971 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-11-2003
Posting Date: 4-9-2004
Directed by Ken Friedman
Featuring Shelby Leverington, Aaron Phillips, Norman Paige

Many years ago, a man was responsible for the execution of a witch. Years later, a woman is killing off a family of descendants from that man.

This movie has a fairly common horror plotline, and if it did nothing more than rehash that plot, it would be of little interest. However, it does try for something more; my problem is I’m not quite sure what it’s trying to do. It appears to be delving into some sexual themes in the story; before the first murder, the woman tells her victim this long extended story about a tribe led by women which connects the dots between sexual domination, sadomasochism, and cannibalism, and though it’s effective in some ways, the story goes on way too long, and when she starts to retell the story at a later point in the plot, you’re very glad that she gets interrupted. However, other elements in the movie just don’t mesh well with anything else; it’s all directed in a rather static, arty style; some of the scenes seem to be comic in nature (especially a pointless sequence in which a man visits an office building and is given horribly confusing directions on how to get to the office of the man he’s visiting), and it’s full of meaningless conversations and awkward pauses. We also have a stupid policeman to contend with, and we get to hear the least relevant graveside biblical readings I’ve ever encountered. It’s also hampered by an extremely low budget, which is particularly problematic during the opening sequence which takes place in a period setting that never looks convincing.

No, there’s no doubt this movie is trying something different, but until I know what it is that it’s trying to do, I’ll have to file it under a big question mark.


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