PURE TERROR MONTH: The House That Screamed (1969)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Andolina is back to watch another movie for us. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film

The House that Screamed aka La Residencia, is a Spanish horror film from the director Narciso (Chicho) Ibáñez Serrador. He is mostly known for a game show and the TV series Historias para no dormir (Stories to Keep You Awake). I would love to get my hands on a copy of Historias para no dormir which started in 1966 and ended in 1982. He also wrote quite a few screenplays under the name Luis Peñafiel. Chicho very recently passed away at the age of 83 on June 7, 2019. 

I’m glad I got a chance to watch this film for the first time as part of Pure Terror month. I have recently gotten back into the habit of studying Spanish and although most of my focus is on Latin American Spanish it’s always great to see horror films from Spain itself. This movie is about a boarding house in France run by a lovely old spinster, Madam Forneau, who has made it her mission in life to take care of rehabilitating and educating girls with behavioral problems. She has a bigger problem on her hands though because some of her girls are disappearing under unusual circumstances. 

A new girl, Teresa, is entering the boarding school. She has been sent by her mother who works in a cabaret as a singer to be educated there. This boarding school is essentially a prison, the girls are locked into their shared dormitory every night and most haven’t seen boys in months. Oh, the agony! Madam Forneau’s son Luis is a huge voyeur and sees a few of the girls here and there but that is not the extent of the strangeness going on at the school.

It takes a while for the killing to happen in this movie, which really helps build the atmosphere and tension of the film. This movie reminds me of the Italian Gialli mostly because of its sexual overtones mixed with violence. It’s well shot and I imagine that the Bluray that includes its extended cut looks beautiful. It is an excellent film despite its simplicity of plot. In fact this movie alone will most likely be the reason I seek out Chicho’s other film Who Can Kill a Child? and the Stories to Keep You Awake series.

This movie is worth a watch for pretty much anybody who enjoys horror. I did find it a bit boring because I’m not super invested in the lives of girls living in boarding schools. If you like women in prison movies I also believe you will find something to enjoy with this one.

I enjoyed The House that Screamed and I will look to see if I can watch the extended cut through rental soon. This movie is not one to skip if you pick up the Pure Terror set or if there isn’t much in the way you want to watch on this set you can seek it out on Bluray or DVD. However, I imagine it is impossible to not want to pick up the set as there is so much to enjoy at the cost of almost one DVD!

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