An American couple in Ireland battle demons both in their marriage and their house in this adequate Roger Corman shocker that mixes elements of POLTERGEIST (1982) and THE SHINING (1980). The film premiered on Showtime in 1996 under the title "House of the Damned."
When Maura South (Alexandra Paul) inherits Glen Abbey Manor in Ireland, she moves from California to live there with her husband Will (Greg Evigan) and young daughter Aubrey (Briana Evigan), even though she hasn't entirely gotten over Will's admission of an extramarital affair. Despite the
blessings of Father Seamus (Eamon Draper), the house is troubled with supernatural mayhem. Psychic Dr. Edward Shea (Dick Donoghue) and his assistant Amy (Mary Kate Ryan) discover that the house is haunted by the daughter of the couple who built it in 1863. They find her body walled up in the
basement and give it a Christian burial. But the supernatural attacks do not stop; Shea is beheaded, and Aubrey disappears. Father Seamus tells the Souths that the house is cursed by evil brought on by Maura's ancestors, who practiced black magic. Using rituals he doesn't entirely understand,
Father Seamus locates Aubrey, who also has been walled up in the basement. Will frees her. Before they can leave the house, Maura becomes obsessed with the notion that Will is having an affair with Amy and locks him out. Will obtains from Father Seamus a mystic dagger that can free a possessed
person. He breaks into the house just as Maura, now possessed by the evil, is about to murder Aubrey. Will stabs her with the dagger, releasing her from the spell. The family escapes just before the house is demolished by the evil forces it contains.
One of several movies Roger Corman made in Ireland with funds provided by the Irish government, SPECTRE is an efficient shocker that should please fans of the genre, despite the fact that it offers nothing that hasn't been seen in dozens of similar films. The element of marital tension is just
enough to unsettle the predictability of the family-in-peril mechanics (not to mention providing an excuse for some supernatural sexual shenanigans to spice up the proceedings).
Alexandra Paul rises to the occasion when the script calls for her to become a psycho mommy, in a twist reminiscent of Jack Nicholson at the climax of THE SHINING. The film may be accused of losing tension by dividing itself into three separate sections, each with its own climax; then again, the
filmmakers may simply be recognizing their own limitations in going for three small payoffs instead of one big one. (Graphic violence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: An American couple in Ireland battle demons both in their marriage and their house in this adequate Roger Corman shocker that mixes elements of POLTERGEIST (1982) and THE SHINING (1980). The film premiered on Showtime in 1996 under the title "House of the… (more)