DVD Review: Warner Brothers Horror Double Feature: The Shuttered Room (1967) and It! (1966)

Double the Fright Tonight
As Warner Brothers Unleashes
Two Horror Double Features


There's such a thing as suspension of disbelief and then there's just plain disbelief as in-- damn, Sam, when will horror movie characters ever learn?!

You don't go skinny dipping in Crystal Lake, you don't run up the stairs to a tiny location when a psychopath storms into your home and hiding under the bed with easily detectable telephone cords isn't the greatest of ideas.

Additionally, just like the brave kids who followed the main character's intuition that there was something fundamentally rotten in Denmark or rather the flight in Final Destination, how many warnings do people need to realize that possibly they're in grave danger especially when everything about their situation screams "run?"

In the case of the woefully underrated and cleverly photographed British B-movie The Shuttered Room-- our two main characters are so stubborn, so fundamentally sure there's nothing fishy going on in the world's creepiest island of inbred weirdos (set in the American coast of New England but echoing the same landscape as the superior and startling Deliverance) that they wave off more than a dozen bad omens. These include not just simple heebie-jeebies but visual shockers, near-death experiences including an attempt at gang rape right after they move in and the countless pleas from the local bumpkins to return to New York City.

Yes, you read that correctly-- in Shuttered, the big bad city that never sleeps is much, much safer than the eerie island that Susannah (Carol Lynley) and Mike (Gig Young) find themselves journeying to in the hopes of turning Susannah's recently inherited old familial mill into a summer vacation country home.

Gothic, sadistic, and filled with ingenious camerawork including a terrifying opener where the lens is used to bring out the point-of-view of the unseen villain from the childhood that the beautiful Susannah has blocked from her mind-- while sccreenwriters D.B. Ledrov and Nathaniel Tanchuck definitely lift generously from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in their film which is based on H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth's novel-- Room is a rather tense and ultimately satisfying creepy little thriller. Additionally, it boasts a great twist ending and a group of hoodlums led by the frightening Oliver Reed whose tendency towards sadism and local flavor make it seem like the type of film that would've appealed to a young Quentin Tarantino.

With a capable turn by Gig Young as Susannah's much older husband who packs a wicked judo chop when things get dicey-- it's a far superior film to the other movie sharing the double bill of this Warner Brothers Horror Double Feature DVD Release, namely director Herbert J. Leder's It!

Essentially a third-rate ripoff of Alfred Hitchock's legendary Psycho which tries to shake things up with a wasted plot involving a possessed statue of a Golem, this disappointing and painfully dull film is one of those that seems like it would best draw in viewers at three in the morning who are looking for a drug free cure for insomnia.

While Planet of the Apes star Roddy McDowall tries his hardest to keep us riveted as a creepy mama's boy who works as an ambitious museum curator by day and then "borrows" diamonds from the collection to let his corpse mother wear for a few hours at night, in the end the film feels like it's suffering from a "personality" disorder even more alarming than the one possessed by its main character.

Moreover, it's never sure if it wants to be a flat-out monster movie as the Golem begins to murder those in its sight under master McDowall's orders or a psychological thriller about a man-child and his dear old dead mom.

Sensibly never served up on video or DVD until this double feature release-- while it's the weakest entry in the four films released from Warner Brothers in this collection and completely skip-worthy to all but die-hard fans of McDowall-- much like the other three, the digital transfer quality is gorgeous with dynamic sound and stellar visual picture that elevates it aesthetically, even if the same can't be said for the ninety-six minute feature itself.

* Shopper's Note: The films are presented on the DVD with Shuttered playing first and It! second although the Warner Brothers box shows the billing the other way around so alphabetically, you may need to search both titles to find it on the shelves.