The Shuttered Room (1967)

Article 2134 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-18-2007
Posting Date: 6-16-2007
Directed by David Greene
Featuring Gig Young, Carol Lynley, Oliver Reed

A woman returns with her husband to the island where she was born, hoping the old mill they inherited will prove to be a summer home. However, the woman has scary memories of her youth there, and not only do they have a strange and violent presence in the house, they also have to contend with a gang of ruffians.

I have strong memories of having seen this one in my youth, and for years it stood for me as a perfect example of how the horrors in your mind can prove to be far stronger than the horrors that manifest themselves on the screen. The movie still works at least partially; the opening scene is quite memorable, the use of sound and point-of-view camera angles is strong, and the door to the shuttered room (red with a spiky peephole) exudes its own sense of menace. The movie is pretty good at first, and at leaves the viewer with a sense that something truly demonic inhabits that room. However, the movie runs into problems; it becomes less interested in the scary presence in the house and more interested in the gang of ruffians that threatens them. On the other hand, maybe this isn’t a bad thing; the head ruffian is played by Oliver Reed, and he gives the best performance in the movie. He steals every scene he’s in and you can’t take your eyes off of him. It also adds to the general feeling of decay and inbred degeneracy that inhabits the movie, and Reed’s character, despite being a cousin to Carol Lynley’s character, clearly has designs on her that are far from platonic. The biggest problem with the movie can be found in the final revelations; given the big build-up they make about the demonic presence, and taking into account that the movie was based on a story co-written by H.P.Lovecraft, the king of unspeakable horror, one is bound to be disappointed by a horror that is utterly speakable. I was disappointed by the ending now as I was when I saw it as a kid.



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