Terror From Under the House (1971)

aka Revenge, Inn of the Frightened People
Article 3102 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-20-2009
Posting Date: 2-10-2010
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Featuring Joan Collins, James Booth, Ray Barrett
Country: UK
What it is: Drama / thriller with horrific undertones

When a child molester is released by the police for lack of evidence, an innkeeper (whose child was murdered) joins forces with a another man to kidnap the suspect and force a confession out of him. However, things don’t run smoothly…

The horror content of this thriller is the presence of a serial child molester, and there are definite horrific touches when we visit the home of the molester for a short time in the movie. However, the main plot of the movie revolves around how the kidnapping and the subsequent complications causes the lives of all concerned to spiral out of control. Most of the spiraling involves the central family, consisting of the innkeeper, his second wife, his son, and his surviving daughter. As it turns out, this family isn’t in the best shape to begin with; the daughter resents her stepmother, and the second wife is a little too friendly with… but it’s best not to give too much away on this point. Combine this with the fact that the kidnapped molester is being held hostage in the basement of a bar with visitors every night, the second man involved with the kidnapping is undependable, the kidnapped man may not be the person they want, and everyone’s emotions are on a hair trigger to begin with, and you have a recipe for disaster. The movie’s potential strength should be the way it taps into fears that this is something that actually might happen to you under similar circumstances, but this is a little marred by the fact that the family is just a little too dysfunctional for the necessary sense of universality. Nevertheless, it’s rather intriguing (and even a little bit darkly comic) to watch how things spin out of control and everyone starts unraveling. Considering the subject matter, the movie isn’t near as explicit as it could have been (it had a PG rating here), but the inherent unpleasantness is there nonetheless. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I think it works more than it doesn’t, and is worth a watch.

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