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Image Entertainment presents
Revenge in the House of Usher (Neurosis) (1985)

"That's right, doctor. I sacrificed my reason for my daughter, as I sacrificed all those young girls."
- Dr. Eric Usher (Howard Vernon)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: November 01, 2001

Stars: Howard Vernon, Daniel Villiers Antonio Mayans
Other Stars: Joan Virli, Lina Romay, Francoise Blanchard, Riccardo Valle
Director: Jess Franco

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, some sensuality)
Run Time: 01h:29m:10s
Release Date: October 16, 2001
UPC: 014381910926
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C-D+C- D+

DVD Review

Prolific Eurohorror director Jess Franco returns to some previously mined ground in this picture. Taking advantage of the fact he had shot The Awful Dr. Orlof twenty years earlier with Howard Vernon, he makes use of extended sections of that film as flashbacks here. Some would call it evocative, others might call it sheer padding.

Dr. Alan Hacker (Antonio Mayans) is mysteriously summoned to the castle of Dr. Eric Usher, his former teacher. Usher has gone completely mad, and confesses his years of misdeeds to Harker. Using clips from Orloff, he admits to kidnapping young women with the hope of curing his daughter Melissa of her unspecified catatonic condition by giving her their blood. His trusty blind assistant Morpho aids in his twisted quest. Intriguingly, Usher's technique also seems to involve embryonic stem cells, anticipating the modern-day controversy. Usher not only believes he is over 100 years old, but suffers from delusions such as the imaginary Dr. Stigmyer who plagues him with criticisms, his dead wife Edmonda who seems to be a vampire of sorts, several of the women he has seduced and killed, as well as Adrien the stable boy whom Usher suspects of seducing his comatose daughter.

If much of this sounds familiar to those acquainted with Franco, that's because the film owes much more to the Orlof verse than to Poe. The ill daughter Melissa, as well as the blind assistant Morpho (here played by Oliver Mato, with Riccardo Valle taking the role in the original clips) are fixtures that harken back to the 1962 film. Yet there are variations here that don't fit quite well either, such as the introduction of characters from Dracula, including Harker and Dr. Seward (Daniel White, credited as Daniel Villiers). The result is rather on the incoherent side, successfully evoking a disturbing fever dream. Lacking in logic or driving story, Usher is more than anything a bit of self-indulgency on Franco's part.

Those expecting gore and sex in a Eurohorror title (especially from Franco) will be sorely disappointed. The usual inserts of blood and breasts are absent here, with only one moment of anything more than implied blood--and even that is cut back to a mere shot of a bloody knife; a now-absent moment of gore snipped from this scene survives in the trailer.

Franco had access to a real castle for filming of this picture, and he makes full use of it, shooting numerous scenes up on the battlements for no good reason other than they look good. Much of Franco's photography (done under the name Alain Hardy), is quite attractive, though Vernon's scenes are all dark and bleary and seem to belong to some third movie. Franco's special effects budget must have been under ten dollars, because he accomplishes the climactic fall by jiggling the camera, throwing a handful of dust, and using sound. The result, predictably, is less than successful. When added to the incoherent story and the vast padding, without any compensating sex or gore, one is left with a sadly messy production without much in the way of redeeming values beyond Vernon's twisted and deliciously deranged performance.

The running time is two minutes shorter than stated on the keepcase.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture has its moments. Close-ups are usually crisp and detailed, though much of the movie is shot in a rather soft focus that comes across well here. Black levels are rather lacking, except in the segments cribbed from Orloff, which doesn't look as good here as in Image's disc of that movie. There is a fair amount of speckling, and occasional moments of serious frame damage, but Image seems to have done what they could with the source material. Unfortunately, the source material is for the most part fairly shabby. I wonder about the claim that the 1.78:1 aspect ratio is the original; compositions often seem quite crowded and a 1.66:1 ratio seems more likely.

Image Transfer Grade: D+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 1.0 mono (with English and French tracks provided) is decent, with the dialogue generally clear. There is hiss and extraneous noise throughout, however. Music often sounds distorted and tinny. I can't say that the picture deserves better.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: other
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The only extra is a trailer under the name Neurosis, which frankly fits better than the silly English language title for a film that has nothing to do with revenge and precious little to do with Poe's House of Usher. At least English subtitles are included, remedying their omission from Image's original Orloff disc. But that's all.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

An incomprehensible and heavily-padded feature, without the usual Eurohorror saving graces of exploitative sex and violence, this one is for Franco completists only. A middling transfer and light extras don't help matters any.

 


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