SHUTTERED ROOM, THE(director: David Greenes; screenwriter: D.B. Ledrov/Nat Tanchuck/from the book by August Derleth and H.P. Lovecraft; cinematographer: Ken Hodges; editor: Brian Smedley-Aston; music: Basil Kirchin/Jack Nathan; cast: Gig Young (Mike Kelton), Carol Lynley (Susannah Kelton/Sarah), Oliver Reed (Ethan), Flora Robson (Aunt Agatha), William Devlin (Zebulon Whateley), Bernard Kay (Tait), Judith Arthy (Emma), Robert Cawdron (Luther Whateley), Celia Hewitt (Aunt Sarah), Ingrid Bower (village girl), Anita Anderson (Susannah as a child), Charles Lloyd Pack (Bargee); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Philip Hazelton; Warner Brothers; 1967-UK)
“Less than good results.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It’s loosely based on the 1959 published short story The Shuttered Room by August Derleth and H.P. Lovecraft (who died in 1937, as the story was actually based on his notes as written by the publisher Derleth of Arkham House), and the screenplay is by D.B. Ledrov and Nat Tanchuck. British veteran TV director David Greene (“Sebastian”/ “Madame Sin”/”The Strange Affair”) helms his debut film with less than good results, as he’s unable to get much drama from such poor material despite a talented cast–wasted in such unpleasant drivel.
Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.
The pretty 21-year-old Susannah Kelton (Carol Lynley) and her much older suave magazine publisher husband Mike (Gig Young) leave Manhattan and ride in his shiny new Thunderbird to a remote impoverished New England coastal island, Dunwich, to take a look at an old mill that Susannah inherited from her deceased parents and hope to use as a summer home. Her parents sent her away as a child to be raised in NYC, and she has a bad feeling returning. The local youth are a bunch of thuggish yahoos led by her lecherous cousin Ethan (Oliver Reed), who tries raping her a couple of times and the last time he tries proves to be fatal for him. While Ethan is attempting to rape his relative in the millhouse, Mike is attacked by Ethan’s gang of ignorant brutes on a country road and has to free himself from being tied up in a fishing net to come to the rescue of his wife. Warned by Aunt Agatha (Flora Robson) to leave because the place is cursed, the couple learn the hard way that the mill has a bad history but not a curse. When they move into the mill they will eventually discover that Susannah has a secret sister, Sarah, who is so insane and violent that the disfigured girl is kept chained in the attic, the shuttered room, and cared for by the devoted Agatha as a promise to her parents.
The Shuttered Room was actually shot on location in Cornwall, England and completed at Twickenham studios. The acting ranges from poor to dreadful, with Lynley looking beautiful and scared throughout, Gig looking smug and miscast and in need of a drink, and Reed in a one-dimensional heavy role looking like an animal who only knows how to grunt. It’s a pic about evil that’s pretty to look at but the story is too repulsive and valueless and poorly executed to enjoy.
REVIEWED ON 11/1/2008 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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