The late Jose Ramon Larraz was a talented director. He helmed several successful horror films including Symptons and the cult classic Vampyres. He found interest in the American box office, thus leading to films such as Rest in Pieces, Edge of the Axe, and a film that he actually shot in America titled Deadly Manor, AKA Savage Lust. Arrow Films was generous enough to send a review copy of Deadly Manor for me to check out. Being a fan of Larraz, I couldn’t wait to check out this remastered Blu-Ray edition of the 1990 slasher. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
Somewhere inside Deadly Manor is a solid slasher crying to get out. However, the paint-by-number horror troupes hold it back from reaching its true potential. The film starts out in typical 80s horror fashion. A bunch of college aged teenagers are driving for a weekend getaway to the lake. Along the way they become lost but cross a hitchhiker that just happens to know where their lake destination is. They just need to give the hitchhiker a ride and he will get them there safely. After a flat tire and a lesson from the police explaining your tire tread needs to be at least Lincoln’s head deep to be satisfactory; the teens are back on their merry way.
So, we have hit a number of horror clichés already and we aren’t even seven minutes into the film! At this point, I am placing bets on who is going to die first. My bet is on the fat guy riding the motorcycle. Horror troupe #54 comes into play as the teens find themselves at an old abandon scary looking house. There is also a burnt-out car on a concrete slab that appears to be a makeshift shrine. Upon further inspection, the car is completely wrecked inside and there is a picture of a young girl in the backseat.
Because all this doesn’t throw out a hint that maybe our young friends should keep driving down the road, the open window that suddenly closes on the second floor arouses their curiosity and now the teens find themselves sleeping overnight in the house as a killer is going around and picking them off one by one.
This has to be the slowest paced slasher film of all time. I am begging for someone to get killed. There is more turmoil among the teens then stalking by the killer. One of the girls, Helen says there is no way she is staying in the house and leaves to walk back to town. By the way, Helen dies first. I lost my bet and trust me, me disclosing that bit of info is in no way a big spoiler.
The teens search the house and find coffins in the basement. All good! We just won’t go in the basement. Eventually they open a closet that has human scalps. No one bats an eye and they still have no problem sleeping in the house. I’m baffled at this point and still eagerly want someone to die soon.
Deadly Manor stumbles when it is has its moments to shine. The killings are bland and once the cat is out of the bag and all is explained, I didn’t care anymore. There is little suspense and the lackluster score doesn’t contribute to any tension or atmosphere. As heavy handed as I have been with my distastes toward the film, there are some positives. The house has a creepy vibe and is actually set up well. I like there is mystery with the picture of the lady in the car. There are multiple pictures of her scattered throughout the house and it even leads to a sleazy bedroom scene.
There are much better slasher films out there. I appreciate Larraz’s attempt, but in the end all the cliches and lack of feelings I had for ALL of the characters crippled the effort. Unless you have to possess all of Larraz’s works, you are better off leaving Deadly Manor behind.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original uncompressed mono audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Brand new audio commentary with Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan
- Newly-filmed interview with actress Jennifer Delora
- Making a Killing – a newly-filmed interview with producer Brian Smedley-Aston
- Extract from an archival interview with Jose Larraz
- Original Savage Lust VHS trailer
- Image Gallery
- Original Script and Shooting Schedule (BD-ROM content)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Adam Rabalais (TO BE REVEALED)
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author John Martin