Alright, I know this isn’t a Mexican movie, it’s American, but it was a remix and reedit by Jerry Warren, who brought so many South of the Border movies to America. He shot new footage with John Carradine — who else? — and Katherine Victor to freshen up two twenty-year-old Chilean films, La Casa está Vacía (The House is Empty) and La Dama de la Muerte (The Lady of Death).
Seeing as how it’s two films, Warren decided to turn this into an anthology, if two stories can really be an anthology. The same house is supposed to be the setting for both stories, one in which a gambler finds a set of stone hands in the cursed house and uses them to play curses before joining a suicide club. This is La Dama de la Muerte (The Lady of Death), as that movie was an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Suicide Club. The second story has another owner’s son finding the hands — this is La Casa está Vacía (The House is Empty) — and using them to hypnotize his brother’s fiancee.
This is the closest that Warren would stay to his source material and therefore lacks the utter drug-induced insanity of his Mexican remake remixes. The dubbing is horrible, yet we can directly trace Godfrey Ho and the wildness that he dropped on us several decades later to the way that Warren could take any movie and chop it to pieces.
Warren once said, ” “I’d shoot one day on this stuff and throw it together. I was in the business to make money. I never ever tried in any way to compete or to make something worthwhile. I only did enough to get by, so they would buy it, so it would play, and so I’d get a few dollars. It’s not very fair to the public, I guess, but that was my attitude. You didn’t have to go all out and make a really good picture.”
Know what you’re getting into before you watch this!
Warren’s American Distributors Productions, Inc. teamed this up with another of his mixtape wonders, Face of the Screaming Werewolf, which is Mexican and is also two movies in one — La Casa del Terror and La Momia Azteca.
I think the thing with old Jerry is that he didn’t want audiences to find out these films were in Spanish, so tried to retrofit his Mexican imports into the Doris Wishman mode of off camera dialogue only. So we get a lot of people about to talk, and then reacting to someone else talking, and then maybe once in awhile overhear something. To Warren, passing for American is way more important than plot. If you can’t handle subtitles or obvious dubbing (like a good 80% of American viewers) and aren’t really paying attention (because you’re falling asleep on the couch or making out in the backseat at the drive-in) it’s a classic, full of high Gothic atmosphere and nada mas. I keep it handy on my ‘movies to fall asleep to’ list though it can’t cold a handle to Face of the Screaming Werewolf