January 13th 2014- Mansion of the Doomed (1976).
Today’s offering is a bizarre little flick with a strong theme of eyeball violence and mad doctors. When Dr. Leonard Chaney accidently crashes his car his daughter Katherine is rendered blind. Blaming himself for the crash and overcome with guilt he sets about performing some daring eye transplant experiments as he attempts to rectify his daughter’s lost sight. After a failed experiment using the eyes of a dead person he quickly realises that he needs fresh meat so to speak, and so desperate, and quite mad at this point he sets about collecting non consenting donors.
Richard Baseheart in the role of the crazed Dr. Chaney is brilliant, especially his voice over narratives which provide little glimpses into his decline into complete insanity. He has a touch of the Herbert West about him in that he refuses to give up, and while this is not intended to be a comedy, his constant ‘if only I could just try one more time’ approach becomes hilarious, this is one seriously stubborn guy. His facial expressions to convey just how utterly bonkers he is are a joy to watch, as are his actions as he sinks like a stone into the sea of people with serious mental health problems category.
First up on the slab is his daughter’s former suitor Dr. Dan Bryan played by a young Lance Henriksen, who after snubbing Katherine pays the highest price and ends up with no eyes. The doctor may be very meticulous in his surgery attempts but is a lot less pedantic when it comes to planning what he is going to do with his victims, and ends up with them locked up in his basement. His wife Nancy who looks like she is on some sort of drugs during most of the film periodically pops in to give them something to eat, and it is all in a good cause of course because when Dr. Chaney makes his breakthrough he completely intends to restore all their sight (yes some of you may have noticed a gaping problem with this- the need for live donors could create an infinite cycle of taking eyes, and replacing them), not that this stops the Doctor.
The reason I have mentioned so much of the plot is it does not really matter how much you know ahead of time and I wanted to talk about the basement of victims because this is where the real horror comes in. Think about it, people with no eyes crawling around in a darkened room, it certainly is quite disturbing. The make-up effects in relation to this are rather good, but it is the feeling it leaves you with, sort of unclean and nasty. Despite the heavy dose of unintentional comedy involved there certainly is a degrading aspect to the story and you cannot help but feel for anyone who comes into the path of Dr. Chaney. All in all this is a curiosity flick which makes for interesting watching, entertaining, it lacks gore content but makes up for that in the gross out factor when you consider what the Doctor is doing to his poor donors. Worthwhile seeking out.