Deadly Manor (1990) – Film Review
Director: José Ramón Larraz
Cast: Clark Tufts, Greg Rhodes, Claudia Franjul
by Sarah Morgan
Slasher movies were ten a penny back in the 1980s, following the success of the original Halloween and Friday the 13th films.
Spanish auteur José Ramón Larraz jumped on the bandwagon late in his directing career when he made Rest in Pieces in 1987, but he clearly enjoyed the experience because he followed it up with Edge of the Axe a year later and then, in 1990, released Deadly Manor.
The last on that list was his final film before his death in 2013 and, while it’s nowhere near his greatest big-screen achievement (fans would argue that honour should go to either of his British-made flicks Symptoms or Vampyres, both from 1974), it’s oddly enjoyable if you’re a horror fan.
And yet it really shouldn’t be. Deadly Manor was clearly produced on a shoestring budget that didn’t even stretch to hiring decent actors; most of the cast sound as if they’re merely reading their lines rather than delivering a true performance. They’re also so clean-cut they look as if they’ve all just wandered off the set of Beverly Hills, 90210.
A group of friends are taking a trip into the wilderness but get lost along the way. They pick up a mysterious hitchhiker who claims he knows the route to their destination, but on discovering it’s still a couple of hours away, they pull off the main road and decide to spend the night in what appears to be a deserted house.
Clearly none of them have ever seen a horror movie before, because if they had, they’d know not to step inside the place, especially after finding a smashed-up car on a plinth in the back garden, clearly placed there as some kind of shrine.
Unsurprisingly, the property turns out to be inhabited by a disfigured homicidal maniac who starts bumping off the newcomers one by one. Somehow Larraz, never one to shy away from depicting sex in his work, manages to shoehorn a rather saucy dream sequence into the tale that does little to enhance the plot, but probably went down a treat with exploitation video distributors back in the day.
The special features are actually more impressive than the movie itself, particularly a revealing interview with Jennifer Delora, a former Playboy Channel star who is refreshingly honest about her own acting abilities, the challenges of working on a low-budget film and the ‘expertise’ of some of her co-stars.
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original uncompressed mono audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary with Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
• Newly-filmed interview with actress Jennifer Delora
• Making a Killing - a newly-filmed interview with producer Brian Smedley-Aston
• Extract from an archival interview with Jose Larraz
• Original “Savage Lust” VHS trailer
• Image Gallery
• Original Script and Shooting Schedule (BD-ROM content)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais
Deadly Manor is released on Blu-ray by Arrow, £24.99