Mansion Of The Doomed (1976) – Film Review

Mansion Of The Doomed

Director: Michael Pataki
Cast: Richard Basehart, Gloria Grahame, Trish Stewart
Certificate: 18

By Sarah Morgan

When it comes to making low-budget genre movies, few people – if any – have done it more prolifically than Charles Band.

Roger Corman may be better known, but even he has fewer credits to his name. Whether Band’s output is as stylish and influential as Corman’s is, however, a moot point. Certainly Mansion of the Doomed, his second film as producer after the better-left-forgotten flop Last Foxtrot in Burbank, lacks the tawdry splendour of Corman’s Poe cycle or biker movies.

Mansion Of The DoomedBut that’s not to say it isn’t worth a look. In one of the special features included in the disc, someone points out that Band had a habit of catching people either on their way down or their way up, and that’s illustrated here by the appearance of faded Hollywood stars Richard Basehart and Gloria Grahame in lead roles, while the pretty effective make-up was done by Stan Winston, long before he won Oscars for his work on Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Jurassic Park.

“Locked up and blinded”

Basehart takes the lead role of LA surgeon Leonard Chaney (a nod to horror icon Lon Chaney), whose daughter Nancy has lost her sight in a car accident.

Devastated by this turn of events, Chaney becomes obsessed with perfecting an eye transplant in the hope of restoring Nancy to her former self, and uses a series of unwitting donors, keeping them locked up and blinded in his basement after they’ve served their purpose.

As his experiments continue to fail, Chaney becomes increasingly desperate, while the people he’s wronged plot their escape…

Don’t expect any subtlety here. Mansion of the Doomed goes for the jugular every time, never pulling punches in its depiction of blood and gore, even using footage from real eye operations in some scenes.

Mansion Of The Doomed

“A decent fist”

Basehart makes a decent fist of his role. The moment where Chaney attempts to procure a child for his scheme is genuinely unsettling. Grahame, rather disappointingly, has little to do, while Lance Henriksen pops up in an early role as Nancy’s ill-fated boyfriend.

Plaudits should go to actor-turned-director Michael Pataki, who makes the most of what was clearly a meagre budget.

Even if Mansion Of The Doomed doesn’t appeal to you, the documentary detailing Band’s extraordinary career is a must for any cinephile. There’s also a fascinating interview with editor Harry Keramidas to enjoy.

Special Effects5
Special features:
  • The Charles Band Empire - A new documentary on the career of horror legend Charles Band.
  • Cutting Teeth - Editor Harry Keramidas on ‘Mansion of the Doomed’.
  • Limited edition booklet: Includes ‘On Mansion of the Doomed’ by filmmaker and critic Chris Alexander and ‘The Eye is blind if the mind is absent: The legacy of ocular violence & video nasties within Mansion of the Doomed’ by writer Andy Marshall-Roberts.
Mansion of the Doomed is released on 101 Films

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