Well, it was a nice break, but now we must head back into some of the not so family friendly movies that I own. And if the title for today’s movie is any indication, this is about as far from the Muppets as you can get. Now I am a little iffy on what to expect from today’s movie. On the one hand, it is a Spanish/Italian horror movie so there is a decent chance that this will be a good movie. On the other hand, it is part of the Chilling Classics set, and those tend to be rather disappointing. Oh well, guess we will just have to wait and see how it turns out with today’s movie, The Murder Mansion (a.k.a. Maniac Mansion).
The plot: Mr. Porter is racing his car up a mountain path and when it almost runs off the road in order to pass a motorcycle, the guy on the motorcycle, Fred, decides to give chase. The two continue up the mountain, passing cars along the way, and eventually Fred passes the car. As he continues up the mountain, Fred pulls over when he sees a female hitchhiker, Laura, on the side of the road but Mr. Porter pulls over as well and Laura chooses to get into the car and they drive off. Fred drives off as well and when he stops at a rest stop, he notices Laura sitting in a booth. He speaks to her for a bit and she tells him that she didn’t like the man she was riding with, as he constantly put his hand on her and accepts a ride from Fred. As they are leaving, Mr. Porter tries to stop them, saying that Laura was riding with him, but Laura gets on the back of the motorcycle and they ride off. Meanwhile, Mr. & Mrs. Tremont pulls up to an old hotel and Mr. Tremont complains about the guests that are playing cards there but his wife tells him not to say anything. Elsa, the owner of the hotel , is on the phone with her husband Ernest, who had left to get a signature authenticated, and is upset that he will be delayed getting back. Ernest hangs up the phone at the bar he is at and heads off to see his mistress, who begs him to leave his wife and stay with her. Fred and Laura are eating dinner at the bar while deciding if they want to keep driving through the night or go ahead and stop. As they pay their bill, they ask the barkeeper the best route to take and he tells them that the old road is shorter but can be fog-filled at night. Back at the mansion, the card players all leave and Elsa tells the Tremonts that she has to go pick up Ernest, as he says he has car trouble, and Mr. Tremont offers to follow behind her, as he wishes to leave that night so he can get the signature turned in first thing in the morning to finish the deal they are working on. They take off but the Tremonts soon lose sight of Elsa in the fog and end up crashing into Mr. Porter. Fred and Laura end up lost in the fog and when they try to flag down a car for help, it nearly runs Fred over. The continue driving and eventually see a man walking along the road carrying a large scythe. They ask him for directions and he tells them where to go, but when Laura asks if he had seen a car, he says they were the first people he had seen on the road. Elsa notices that the couple was no longer behind her but before she can do anything, she ends up lost in the fog herself and almost crashes into a cemetery. As she checks on her car, she hears a sound and notices two figures coming out of cemetery towards her, one dressed as a chauffeur, and she starts running. Fred and Laura get even more lost in the fog and end up crashing the motorcycle. After making sure they are both ok and the motorcycle still works, Fred and Laura check the map before they share a kiss. Suddenly, they hear Elsa screaming and see her fall nearby so they go to check on her. She tells them what happened but they don’t see any sign of her pursuers. Since her car is broken down, and they can’t all fit on Fred’s motorcycle, they decide to walk around the edge of the cemetary to see if there was a village nearby. The eventually see an old Rolls Royce and realize that it is the same car that almost ran Fred down. Seeing a light in the distance, they discover an old mansion and when they knock on the door, they are greeted Mr. Porter, who is pointing a gun at them. He ushers them inside, where they see the Tremonts inside as well, and they tell them what happened to them. As they are talking, the owner of the house, Martha Clinton, walks down and invites them so stay the night, saying that it is too dangerous to travel at night with the fog as it is. She also tells them about the abandoned village, saying that there was a legend about a vampire killing some people a long time ago and the surviving villagers buried the victims in the cemetery. They hear a scratching sound coming from the cellar but when Fred and Mr. Porter go to check it out, Martha begs them to leave the door closed, saying she saw a rat there once and never opened it again, and the two stop as the sound had also stopped. When Martha talks about how her grandmother and her chauffeur were killed when they crashed into the cemetery gate, Elsa starts having a panic attack and she is taken upstairs to one of the rooms to lie down. As the rest of the people get ready for bed, Fred, who is sleeping with Laura on the floor by the fireplace, decides to investigate the cellar and notices strange marks on the door. Laura convinces him to leave the cellar, as it gives her the creeps, and they proceed to make out in front of the fire. Mr. Porter is drinking from a flask and getting paranoid at every little sound. He goes to check on Elsa and tries to hit on her but she spurns him and after seeing Fred and Laura asleep together, he then goes to see Martha. She invites him inside and appears to be responding but she tells him to turn around and when he does, he sees the chauffeur’s dead body approaching him and he ends up having a heart attack and dies. Laura wakes to find that Fred is gone and the cellar door is open so she lights a candle and heads down there to find him. She gets freaked out when she sees some rats and her candle goes out and when she tries to relight it, she is grabbed by Fred, who wishes to show her what he discovered. Elsa has been having dreams about her father and her husband and Martha goes to check on her when she cries out and offers to sleep next to her. Meanwhile, Fred and Laura follow the tunnel Fred found and discover the Clinton’s family crypt but discover that the coffin that is supposed to contain Martha’s grandmother is empty. Elsa finds it difficult to get back to sleep and when she rolls over to face Martha, she finds that Martha now has the appearance of an older woman and she runs out of the room. She tries going out the door only to see the chauffeur approaching so she heads back inside and, grabbing a burning log to act as a torch, she heads down into the cellar. While making her way through the cellar, she finds the body of Mrs. Tremont hanging from a hook and passes out, causing the torch to catch some nearby materials on fire. Fred and Laura leave the crypt and notice Mr. Porter in the graveyard, who suddenly shoots at them. Fred goes to stop him and finds that he is already dead and they wonder how he managed to shoot at them. Suddenly, they see the chauffeur and Martha’s grandmother approaching them but when Fred goes to get the gun, they disappear. Taking Mr. Porter’s body back to the mansion, they tell Martha that he died just as Mr. Tremont comes downstairs saying that his wife and Elsa are missing. Noticing smoke coming from the cellar door, they all head downstairs and see the fire, as well as Elsa and Mrs. Tremont’s body and while Mr. Tremont heads back upstairs before he collapses, Fred carries Elsa to safety then heads back down to help Laura put out the fire. Fred has Laura look after Elsa, giving her the gun for protection, then he decides to tells Martha and Mr. Tremont that he is going to try and get to the village for help, though they warn him not too. Fred leaves but as soon as the door closes, he sneaks around to the garage and finds a working Rolls Royce along with a tape recorder. He continues looking around but is attacked by the chauffeur and rendered unconscious. Meanwhile, Laura and Elsa are attacked by the bloody head of Mrs. Tremont and Martha’s grandmother and take shelter in another room, only to find a drugged Mrs. Tremont lying in the bed. Downstairs, Martha removes the mask she was wearing to make her look old and Mr. Tremont tosses the fake head of his wife, revealing that they are working together. A mysterious man approaches and pulls a gun on them, then shoots the chauffeur as he walks into the house, then uses the chauffeurs gun to shoot the two of them, with Martha falling into the fireplace and catching on fire. The man then turns to head into the cellar, revealing himself to be Ernest and it is apparent that he hired Martha, Mr. Tremont, and the other man to drive his wife insane so he could get her money and be rid of her. Fred regains consciousness and heads back to the mansion, sees the bodies on the floor, and then rushes upstairs to find Laura. He finds her and convinces her that they have to leave to get help. Elsa heads down stairs and trips over the body of Mr. Tremont and when she hears the cellar door opening, she grabs the gun and starts shooting it and kills Ernest, who had been taking down the fake body from the cellar. After emptying the gun, Elsa collapses to the floor and begins crying as Fred and Laura are seen riding away from the mansion towards the village.
This was a surprisingly good movie and did a great job of sucking me into it. The acting was pretty good, though it could be a little hard to tell at times due to the dubbing. The story was really good and though it is never actually revealed in the movie, you are able to tell what was going on at the end and they do a good way of resolving it. There wasn’t really much in the way of special effects but some of the props and makeup went back and forth between looking good and looking bad. My main gripes with this movie were mostly superficial issues, such as some shaky camera work at the beginning of the movie. A good suspenseful movie that would be great to watch on a stormy night.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5