Every now and again you across a horror film that is much more and much less than the usual flick. Films like Psycho, Red State, and American Mary all present themselves as horror films but have so much more going on than just that. The thing about horror is that it can manifest itself in so many different ways. One film that does that successfully is Jose Ramon Larrez’s
Scream…and Die aka The House That Vanished.
Valerie is a young, hot model who goes with her slightly sleazy boyfriend Terry, to pick up a few things. After getting lost in the fog, they come to a dark house. Terry goes in and asks her to wait. She doesn’t do that long. Soon she wanders in and finds him looting the place. As they find some suspicious items they notice a car pull up. Hiding, they watch a couple come in to have sex. The woman does all the talking as the man mply stares. As she disrobes and climbs on top of him, he enjoys her for a moment before the flash of a switchblade changes everything. He slices her up as Valerie bolts for the door. She eventually finds a junk yard and waits it out in an old car. Terry, however, never makes it home. The next morning she sets out to find out where he is, only to find Terry’s dirty car parked outde her house and a picture of her misng from her portfolio. The problem is that the killer knows who she is and where she lives but she can’t find the house…its gone!
nce nobody liked Terry and he had a habit of disappearing anyway, no one is concerned. Eventually, Valerie takes up with a new guy. Will he be better than Terry, or worse? Will She find her way back to the house? These answers come all in good time.
Directed by Jose Ramon Larraz, responble for the excellent Vampire clasc, Vampyres (Reviewed HERE
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One of the things that works is that the film provokes the fear that she is watched at every turn without showing her stalker. Terry’s old, dirty car keeps popping up among other things. The taunting seems very personal and for, more menacing. It also is very much film of its time and place. Relaxed sexual attitudes and strong, independent women attracted to very meek guys. That was very much a part of the 70’s.
The players are standard Euro fare of the time, with Karl Lanchbury (Vampyres), and horror favorite Judy Matheson (Hammer’s Lust for a Vampire and Twins of Evil, The Flesh and Blood Show), adding experience to the cast. That being said, Andrea Allan is captivating as Valerie. If you fall in love with her, you can check her out in Carry On Cowboy, Old Drac, and the series UFO (set in the futuristic world of 1980!).
Larrez made good films, each pushing the boundaries of society at the time. Vampyres was very overt in its sexuality and bloodletting while his satanic cult film Black Candles remains his most disturbing. Yes I’m talking about that nful favorite that has the mother of all Goat scenes! Strangely, he preferred art to film making, but I believe this was a strength nce he would often cross lines that a pure film maker might reconder. Larrez came with the attitude “if I can draw it, I can film it”.
Scream and Die is an interesting film that may be a little more abstract than one is used to in a horror film, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It does need to be watched with a separate set of expectations, or as I often say, with no expectations. In America, the title was changed to The House that Vanished and was distributed as a ster film to Last House on the Left. That poster lies to you, but make no mistake. The film is sharp.The mystery builds at a slow pace that will please the viewer depending on their taste. Regardless, it’s hard to beat a film that has a naked girl with a monkey! It’s a little strange and slightly erotic in intent. But hey, that’s just what he does.
Other Horrific Mungs:
Call it Rosemary’s other baby: Black Candles aka The Sexual Rites of the Devil (1982)