According to the trailers and TV spots in the extras, “it’s the terror that hides inside your mind” — oh, OK, that clears it up.
It matters not, because it’s a good movie, dangerously low IMDb rating be damned. The Gothic ghost story
with then-newfangled slasher elements looks great on Blu-ray, which is more than a little surprising when one considers it was written, directed, produced and even had its poster oil-painted by pornographic filmmaker Armand Weston. And somehow, he talked a Hollywood legend into it, too.
A rather effective opening prologue easily and quickly fills you in on all you need to know: Some people were killed in this octagonal, multistory house of elegance in the countryside.
Jump ahead to present day, and the one-time mansion has fallen into disrepair; just flush the toilet, and a window cracks. But it strikes agoraphobic novelist Lauren Cochran (Robin Groves, “Stephen King’s Silver Bullet”) as the perfect spot to rent from John Carradine so she can type away without feeling cramped by the big city. That’s before she realizes that the house is haunted by the ghosts of prostitutes. So what’s the problem?
The problem is they want to avenge their murders, taking it out on anyone who crosses the threshold of the former brothel, through some rather creative — or, barring that, appropriately grisly — deaths, whether their victims deserve it or not. The offings are accompanied by yet another Bernard Herrmann-esque stab on the soundtrack, a staple of the era’s low-budget horror.
Weston does quite well in his one and only venture outside of the triple-X realm, but he can’t entirely escape his blue-movie output; witness Lauren’s last name, which gives one character a juvenile chuckle. Plus, Groves replaces the “V” of her last name with a “P” in a mirror scene that’s a little gratuitous.
There’s something poetic about scenes of slow-motion violence, which comprise the final act’s flashback — the kind of shoot-’em-up scenes that Sam Peckinpah mastered and Quentin Tarantino made fashionable again. Here, they get under your skin, in a way that the slasher elements do not, because they remind us that such mindless brutality is someone’s reality.
Am I getting too high-minded for a B movie? Apologies. In her final role, Oscar winner Gloria Grahame (“Oklahoma!”) appears as the ghostly madam, laughing like a Tickle-Me Elmo as one would-be escapee continually runs her over with his car. There, that better?
This is Blue Underground’s first Blu-ray following a recent string of Dario Argento reissues. Because “The Nesting” made no lasting impact in the marketplace or pop-culture consciousness, and because Weston died more than 20 years ago, there are fewer bonus materials to work with — no interviews, no commentary — but still an attractive package that will prove difficult for horror fans to bypass. It’s ripe for discovery. —Rod Lott