House of the Black Death (1965) Poster

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5/10
Confusing, isn't it?
reptilicus9 January 2005
Jerry Warren, Harold Daniels and (if we can believe the credits) Reginald LeBorg all had something to do with putting this movie together. Jerry is famous for importing Mexican movies, adding new scenes and releasing them as "new". CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD and CURSE OF THE STONE HAND come quickly to mind. He also directed MAN BEAST and introduced to world to "Rock Madison" an actor who never really existed! Harold Daniels directed the original version of BAYOU (1956) which was spiced up with "Adults Only" footage a few years later and re-released as POOR WHITE TRASH. Reginald LeBorg had worked with stars Lon Chaney and John Carradine previously in things like DEAD MAN'S EYES, THE MUMMY'S GHOST and THE BLACK SLEEP. The combination of these three culminates with a movie that is . . . well . . .unusual to say the least.

The small town of Wydeburn (it seems to only have 20 residents) is controlled by the feuding DeSade family. The good warlock Andre (John Carradine) controls half the citizens and bad warlock Belial (Lon Chaney) rules the others. Andre tells us that Belial has a cloven hoof but we never see it. Chaney's limp is no doubt due to an attack of gout which he was plagued with for the last years of his life. He does sport a nice pair of horns though. Another member of the family is supposed to be a werewolf and to be fair we do get a brief insert shot of the man wearing what is meant (I guess) to be a werewolf mask! Another DeSade brother (Tom Drake, who costarred with Chaney in THE CYCLOPS back in 1957) comes home with a doctor colleague (Andrea King, best remembered from THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS) to save his sister (Delores Faith) from what he believes is the family madness. Without spoiling too much of the plot (actually the directors did that themselves!) he soon learns that not all of Life's mysteries can be explained away in medical books!

Continuity is barely there and scenes jump around so much you have to wonder who did the editing. At one moment Carradine declares he is tired and must rest yet in the very next scene he is in the living room talking about the family history! Watch how Delores Faith is wearing high heels when she leaves Carradine's house but is barefoot when she arrives at Chaney's place. Everyone I this picture had experience with the genre and I can only assume they did the best they could with a budget that from probably non existent from Day One and three directors all going in different directions. Katherine Victor from THE CAPE CANAVERAL MONSTERS shows up long enough to initiate a new member into Belial's coven. One name "Adults Only" star Sabrina (qv THE ICE HOUSE)shows up as a harem dancer.

If you think Roger Corman's THE TERROR (1963) is all over the map plotwise sit down and try to watch this movie! It's too incoherent to even to be funny. Oh well, call me a completist but I'll watch anything with Lon and John in it. Nice try, guys.
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7/10
There is something about it I like.
dbborroughs15 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sue me I liked this. perhaps seeing it late at night with the lights out and being half a sleep the film came across as a twisted dream. Perhaps I had to eventually like a film that Jerry Warren was involved in. What ever the reason I liked the film. (Actually I think its the fact that Sinister Cinema's print is dark and shadowy and very moody) The plot has a white magician getting involved with two warring brothers who are black magicians. Lon Chaney is one John Carradine is the the other.

Its a strange film that has a rhyming opening intoned by Satan, a plot that wanders all over the place and plot holes that you could drive a rampaging demon through. Its not by any real normal sense a good film, but it has mood and a sense of place and a reality that is sort of bent, I liked it.

I have no idea if anyone else will but its a dark tale that clicked with me.
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I've actually read the book!
barcham_998 September 2009
Unfortunately I can't comment on the movie as I have never seen it, but I just thought I'd let people know that yes, it is based on a book! The book is the Widderburn Horror and from what I've been reading here, it's considerably better than this movie.

I had always felt that it would make a good movie so I did a search on it and ended up here only to be sadly disappointed. If someone would do it properly, I still think it would make a fine movie. The book has it all, witchcraft, devil worship, werewolves - actual transformation into a wolf, not some horror film monster, and a family of witches going back centuries that could be the inspiration for Anne Rice's witches in the Witching Hour. Not to mention a story of unrequited love.

Considering how old the novel is, there is no indication of the time period and it could still work very well if it were set in the present day. If anyone is interested, you can find the book on amazon, used of course. It's the Widderburn Horror by R.Warner-Crozetti aka Lora Crozetti. As far as I can tell, it's the only book she ever wrote and it seems that it was meant to be the first of a series but never went any further.

Considering all the remakes being produced today that are pointless and inferior to the original, this is one book that cries out for someone to do it properly.
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5/10
Disorienting, Disturbing
Scott_Mercer12 November 2013
If the goal here was to make a good movie, they failed miserably.

If the goal was to confuse, disturb and disorient the viewer, then JACKPOT, baby! This movie is not scary because it evokes a disturbing real atmosphere of fear the way something like Night of The Living Dead does. The effect here in HOTBD is much more surreal.

No, the world of House of The Black Death, aka Blood of the Man Devil is not a world that you or I might recognize. But it is a world that sucks you in. A world of grainy, back-and-white horror; a world of creeping, Gothic torment, a world of a furtively glimpsed fever dream while under the influence of absinthe or laudanum, as you are restrained with rubber hoses in a rusty dentist's chair from the 19th century and assaulted with various antique dental implements.

The stark textures of the muddy, washed out print I viewed only added to the sense of ennui and nausea endured while watching this exercise in creepiness, a tableau which added death-desiring boredom to the mix during the endless talky scenes of people discussing the battle for the soul of the Dessard family between Carradine and Chaney. The extra added frisson provided by the poor condition of the print I viewed was clearly not intended by the filmmakers, but you know what they say, when life hands you lemons...or, more concisely, whatever works.

Now that I have accidentally referred to Woody Allen and Larry David in this review, a highly inappropriate turn of events, I will end with just one command: I importune you to watch this film only late at night, with the lights off, preferably when you are so tired that you will not be able to stop dozing off (if you weren't already there, the dialog will see to that). The wretched visuals of this nightmare of a psychotic will mix with your own dreams as you drift off into an impenetrable trap amongst the ether, of both your own making and that of the (many) directors of this "film."

Pleasant screams.

UPDATE: As of 1/2014, now available on DVD from VCI Entertainment, who have released 2 volumes each of three Jerry Warren "classics." For those with strong constitutions only...
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2/10
The devil made them do it
Zontar-29 September 2006
Relatives returning to their ancestral home tangle with warlocks and a family curse.

If this was based on an actual novel, as the credits claim, it has to be filmdom's sorriest screen adaptation. (Then again, the book angle could have been fabricated by crudmeister Jerry Warren, whose cinematic transgressions include bogus credits.) Like MONSTER A GO GO ('65), this plays like an unfinished film. You pity old hands Tom Drake and Andrea King, clueless that they'll "star" in what amounts to a series of barely connected scenes.

On the other hand, Lon Chaney and John Carradine probably knew exactly what type of muck they were standing in. Carradine hams his role of family patriarch so badly, Hormel could sue for product defamation. Chaney, possibly hired because the plot includes a werewolf, plays a horned satanist who limps with an (unseen) cloven hoof...or did he just drop a hooch bottle on his foot? Familiar TV face Jerome Thor is screendom's most pitiful lycanthrope, though he gives it what I guess is his best shot.

Master film mangler Jerry Warren attempted to finish the film by randomly inserting new scenes that add nothing but running time. Sparse music cues contribute to the lethargy.
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7/10
It's Not All That Bad
Rainey-Dawn29 October 2014
This movie really is not all that bad; it's actually a fairly decent older horror mystery film. The story does seem to be lacking quite a bit - it's not that well written. It does have the potential to be a good story with a bit more work on the script. The acting is so-so. It's as if the actors did not have their heart into making this movie - only to acquire a quick paycheck.

What the film has got going for it besides being the potential of being a good horror film: a satanic witchcraft theme, a mysterious small town called Wydeburn and werewolf (a very quick glimpse at the werewolf which looked more like an ape-man to me).

I have to say, there is something I like about this film - it's a horror film nugget to me.

Comparable film: If you want a good older film concerning satanic witches and a mysterious small town then try The City of the Dead 1960 (aka Horror Hotel) starring Christopher Lee.

7/10
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1/10
Career U-Turns for Chaney, Carradine!
sanzar8 May 1999
"House of the Black Death", an obscure B & W horror pic from the mid-60's, marked Lon Chaney's entrance into the world of Grade Z schlock, a domain already inhabited by his co-star, John Carradine. Unfortunately, both stars would continue a downward career spiral from this point on, making numerous low-grade bombs along the way.

The story here involves dueling warlocks, battling for control of the Desard family in the village of Wydeburne, wherever that is. Chaney's Belial is on the outside, looking in, lusting for his brother Andre's (Carradine)fortune. Belial employs his coven of witches to bedevil the opposing members of the Desard family in his quest for power. Spells are cast, demons and Werewolves are invoked (although mostly off-screen) but the end result is viewer boredom, thanks to an incoherently talky script and stilted performances.

As originally filmed, this picture was obviously an unreleasable mess. Hence, the producers invited noted hack Jerry Warren ("Face of the Screaming Werewolf", "Teenage Zombies", "Incredible Petrified World", plus many more truly awful movies) to try to piece things together. Warren dragged in his longtime "star" Katherine Victor, for a few insert shots and dropped in some dancing girl segments, all to little avail. The movie remained unreleasable and received few, if any, playdates under an assortment of titles.

Don't look for it on TV: your only chance to view this disaster is probably by ordering a copy from a PD video dealer. Take my advice, save your money!
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4/10
Dull and badly made horror flick
JohnSeal8 August 2004
If not for the coupling of horror icons John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr.--who don't share a single scene together--House of the Black Death would be completely worthless. As it is, it's ALMOST completely worthless, being badly shot, appallingly lit, and poorly written. In a plot reminiscent of Roger Corman's version of The Raven, our two stars play brothers and dueling masters of the dark arts, with Chaney sporting a fetching pair of horns that mark him as the bad guy. (He's also called Belial, which doesn't help matters.) The endless exotic dancing sequences echo A.C. Stephens inept Orgy of the Dead, a film that, thanks to its colour photography, is a masterpiece in comparison to House of the Black Death.
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Jerry Warren crashes and burns again!
telepinus15252 December 2007
This is one movie that probably would have been improved if Ed Wood had directed it instead! The whole thing plays out like a fever dream after you've eating a bad chicken salad. It's impossible to say if Jerry Warren "improved" on it or not; check out the ax job he did on "La Marca del Muerto", repackaging it as "Creature of the Walking Dead". The story of two brothers with Satanic powers dueling it out over the family fortune(and bragging rights over a kitschy-looking standing stone called the "Devil's Saddle") is barely coherent, the direction is barely coherent, the acting is barely coherent, and I was barely coherent after watching it. It was so bad it wasn't even funny--Warren seems to have that magic touch, doesn't he? The only good thing I can think about this turkey is that Bruno VeSota(a reliable Warren alumnus) didn't have to appear in it. Hmmm. Maybe if Warren had taken a cue from "Attack of the Giant Leeches"...but that's just me. BTW: I caught this on the old late-night schlock show, "Fright Night" hosted by "Sinister Seymour". When Seymour did a bumper between commercials, saying "...and we'll be right back with 'House of the Black Death'! Whaddya think of that, fringies?", they cut to John Carradine sitting up in bed and screaming in abject terror! I know how you felt, John, believe me, I do...
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1/10
Even Ed Wood might have thought this film was terrible!
MartinHafer14 March 2013
This film starts off wonderfully--with Satan himself introducing the characters. While this was inspired and clever, nothing else in the film was. In fact, it's pretty much a stupid mess about two warlocks who fight over the family fortune in some godforsaken (literally) town. While John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr. star in the film, both were at the points in their careers where they would have appeared in ANYTHING--even ads for Playtex girdles if they'd asked! In addition to being an extremely dull and talky film, 'sexy' dancing girls are rather randomly inserted throughout the film to try to keep you awake. However, their alluring antics are about as alluring as a bowel obstruction.

"House of Black Death" (also known as "Blood of the Man Devil") is an absolutely horrible film that has not surprisingly slipped into the public domain. While IMDb often links such films to archive.org, this time they didn't--though if you go to this site you can download it for free. But, in many cases, why should you?! My advice is to only watch it if you love schlocky films--such as those of Larry Buchanan, Ed Wood or William Grefe. In this sense, it is watchable because it's THAT bad! Don't say I didn't warn you.
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Waste of Talent
Michael_Elliott13 March 2008
House of the Black Death (1965)

* (out of 4)

Two warlocks, one good (John Carradine) and one evil (Lon Chaney, Jr.) battle over human souls. I really don't have the faintest idea what this film is about because there are three story lines going on and none of them make any sense on their own so mixing them together is even more confusing. One of the stories deals with the warlock's other brother who's a werewolf but we never actually see the wolf. Again, here's a film that you hang onto because you're expecting something to happen but nothing ever does happen so in the end you've just wasted your time. To make matters even worse Chaney and Carradine don't share any scenes together.
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3/10
Lon Chaney and John Carradine hit rock bottom
kevinolzak29 November 2014
Filmed in Sept 1965, "Night of the Beast" was the debut feature for novice producer William White, better known to horror fans as actor Bill Hampton, from 1959's "The Hideous Sun Demon" and 1965's "The Human Duplicators," while director Harold Daniels scored a success with the 1958 "Terror in the Haunted House" aka "My World Dies Screaming." The exceedingly small budget must have run out as completion neared, and the filmmakers lost control of the footage, soon picked up by schlockmeister Jerry Warren, whose additional 11 minutes of added scenes extended the running time to 74 minutes, but otherwise served little purpose due to his inept editing. A black and white movie that could only get playdates on the bottom half of double bills under the title "Blood of the Man Devil" (or even all night drive-in creature features), what is now better known as "House of the Black Death" languishes in obscurity to this day, little seen even on television despite the presence of genre heavyweights Lon Chaney and John Carradine (alas, not once sharing any scenes together). Sibling warlocks in service to their master Satan, Carradine's Andre Desard represents the wealthy upper class, while Chaney's Belial Desard heads up the plebeian tier, leading the tiny town of Widderburn to revolt against Andre and usurp his all powerful status with their lord and master (the book from which the excessively wordy script was adapted was titled "The Widderburn Horror"). Displaying the goat's horns that make him an even greater emissary of the Devil, the top billed Chaney gets more footage than his co-star, threatening the souls of Andre's son Paul (Tom Drake), cursed by lycanthropy, and daughter Valerie (Dolores Faith), whom Belial seems to covet for himself. Virtually everyone is defeated by the ill conceived screenplay, but even under these impoverished circumstances both Chaney and (especially) Carradine are remarkably professional. Jerry Warren never shied away from taking credit for the film's belated release, but as editor he blunders badly on several occasions: we see doctors Mallory (Andrea King) and Campion (Jerome Thor) accompanied by villager Stokes (Sherwood Keith) BEFORE Belial assigns him as their guide, while Carradine's Andre claims he must rest, but is being chastised by Valerie in the very next scene for revealing the family secrets to Campion. The most egregious error was in showing us Chaney's goat horns well before his supposed 'big reveal' in front of a shocked doctor Mallory! Gorgeous blonde bombshell Sabrina, known as 'Britain's Jayne Mansfield,' provides plentiful eye candy dancing for Chaney's delighted amusement, but otherwise serves no purpose and has no dialogue. Warren's new scenes feature a brunette dancer of lesser merit, and regular stock company performers Katherine Victor and George Andre attempting to plug a few gaps in continuity, their repeated chants only adding to the numbing sense of boredom. Still, it just might qualify as the best film that Jerry Warren was ever involved in! (Carradine and Victor would rejoin him for his 1981 comeback feature "Frankenstein Island").
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5/10
Desard Power.
morrison-dylan-fan11 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
With a poll being held on IMDb's Classic Film board for the best titles from 1965,I started looking round for films to view from that year,and I spotted on Ebay a fun sounding Horror starring Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine,which led to me getting ready to enter the house of death.

The plot:

Fighting over the family fortune,warlocks Andre & Belial Desard battle over who controls the fortune.Falling in love for Valerie Desard, Eric Campion and his friend Dr. Kate Mallory decide to go and try to help end the feud between Andre and Belial.Arriving at the Desard's,Campion and Mallory soon discover that they have entered the house of black death.

View on the film:

Getting passed along between 3 directors, Harold Daniels, Jerry Warren & Reginald Le Borg contributions are each cut in with a hacksaw,as the jarring pause of dialogue and abrupt change in scenes are spread across the movie.Whilst this pulled apart approach does lead to Richard Mahoney's adaptation of Lora Crozetti's novel to feel rather hazy,it also gives the title a peculiar dream-logic atmosphere,thanks to satanic chants being joined by monks and beautiful dancing girls,
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4/10
An example for veteran Hollywood stars: Don't let this happen to you.
mark.waltz23 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Some second string actors of the 1930's and 40's get to chew the scenery in this supernatural thriller about Satanists gathering together for an annual celebration of the dark moon and the rivalry of two witch brothers (John Carradine and Lon Chaney Jr.) of who will take over the coven. Andrea King ("The Beast With Five Fingers") plays a doctor (it is never mentioned if she is Christian, but she obviously isn't a Satanist) who comes to take care of Chaney's son (Tom Drake, "Meet Me in St. Louis") who is suffering from the same disorder Chaney Jr. suffered from in "The Wolf Man". The ironically named Dolores Faith is the ingénue here who has Satanic leanings but is fighting with herself to escape the dark side of her existence. A spooky set with practically everybody wearing monk robes and some scary moments make for an interesting, if often disturbing supernatural drama. Of course, every time the horrible Chaney speaks, it just becomes laughable. Everybody else seems to be speaking with some sincerity or wisdom, but Chaney is totally one-note. Nobody delivered bad dialog more badly than Chaney. Carradine at least gets to show some vulnerability in his performance, and even if he is on the side of the prince of darkness, you do find yourself rooting for him in his quest to squelch Chaney. But one thing is for sure. This film will never be a threat to the memory of the big budgeted witches coven picture, "Rosemary's Baby".
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