To me and countless other fans, Charles Band is a film icon. Much like Lloyd Kaufman, Band had a vision back in the day and worked hard his whole life to bring it to fruition. As a result, we have a huge library of his works to enjoy. MANSION OF THE DOOMED is an older title in this vault, however it’s still a lot of fun. And while it is not perfect, it’s a film that will linger in your mind long after it’s over.
If you are not familiar with MANSION OF THE DOOMED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon Features:
Dr. Chaney and his beloved daughter Nancy survive a terrible car accident which leaves Nancy blind. Chaney, guilt stricken from being responsible, turns into a mad surgeon, obsessed with finding a way to restore his daughter’s vision. But when he decides to drug victims, removing their eyes to operate on his daughter, terror unfolds and Chaney’s mansion becomes a dungeon filled with disfigured captives, rising up to take their revenge. Starring Oscar winner Gloria Grahame (The Bad and the Beautiful), Richard Basehart (Moby Dick), and Lance Henriksen (Aliens) and featuring special effects by Oscar-winning effects artist Stan Winston (Terminator 2, Jurassic Park).
Now, before you watch this film (and I recommend you give it a shot), keep in mind it is very dated. Many of the set pieces, including clothing styles, vehicles, and home decor, are definitive 70s-genre cliches. But this can be overlooked, as long as the focus is kept on the story. I didn’t have a problem at all looking past these, and in turn, I had a good movie experience.
The look of MANSION OF THE DOOMED is pretty good overall, however the cinematography does not necessarily stand out, nor does the film style itself. The acting is really good, however, with screen vets Richard Basehart and Gloria Grahame giving Grade A performances. I also have to point out this is one of Lance Henriksen’s first films, an actor who I always enjoy onscreen.
The special effects deserve a lot of merit as well. Legendary effects man Stan Winston did the effects, and they are certainly worthy of note. Gruesome in a minimalistic way, every scene involving them makes you cringe and recoil. I might go so far as to call them ghastly.
The story is not terribly original, even for that time period, although it’s nothing that detracts too much from the movie. I like how it focuses on the eyes, yet the plausibility of keeping the subjects alive in the basement almost seems far-fetched. Still, if you look past that, the film is fun overall.
MANSION OF THE DOOMED is a nice, nostalgic horror trip back to yesterday, and I have to give it a thumbs-up despite its shortcomings. I recommend giving it a look, if anything to check out Stan Winston’s handiwork. The film is available now in a variety of formats.