One of the four Mexican films made by Boris Karloff shortly before his death (his scenes were shot in Los Angeles and spliced in later), HOUSE OF EVIL features the actor as the patriarch of a greedy family who calls his heirs to his mansion to collect their inheritance. After the
introduction of this situation and the characters, Karloff's character dies, leaving the others to spend the rest of the film wandering around in the dark corridors of the mansion, where they are murdered by the patriarch's collection of life-sized automatons (actors pretending to be robots). With
muddy photography and endless chatter, this is a difficult film to watch. There are some fairly startling moments of gore, however, including one in which a hopeful heir is shot in the face by toy cannons and another in which a woman is run through with a sword by an automaton. The climax, in
which the not-really-dead Karloff insanely plays the organ as his mansion bursts into flames and falls down around him, is fairly memorable. There is plenty of unintentional laughter as well: an establishing shot of the mansion is quite obviously an illustration, and the sound-effects for the
squeaky automatons sound like whimpering puppies. On videocassette as THE DANCE OF DEATH.
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