Aficionados of horror films may want to check in to House of the Damned for a while, but those who do not have a real deep and abiding love for anything connected with the genre should give this one a pass. Damned is a pretty poor little flick, a "dark old house" mystery that also cribs quite a bit from Freaks, but without that classic's ingenuity or atmosphere. Indeed, Damned ends up being a surprisingly gentle horror film, which might have made for an interesting variation -- but not in the hands of director Maury Dexter and writer Harry Spalding. Instead, we're left with a bunch of "scare" scenes that don't provide as much impact as intended, a script that wanders hither and yon, and characters that are pure cardboard. The cheapness of the production is also abundantly evident, although John M. Nickolaus, Jr.'s cinematography is still several cuts above average. The location used for filming is also interesting, but Dexter simply doesn't do enough with it. The cast does what it can with the material, but it's not enough -- the end result is really just kind of dull, not exactly what one wants from a film that's meant to provide chills.
by Craig Butler review