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DVD Review: The Shuttered Room (1967)

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The Shuttered Room (1967)

Directed by David Greene

DVD: The Shuttered Room (1967)At the time of this review The Shuttered Room only seems to only be available as part of a double feature and has to share disc space with the film It! (reviewed here).

Although The Shuttered Room is set on a small American island, you might be surprised to learn that it is a British Film and was filmed in and around the UK. So, if some of the American accents sound a little dodgy, now you know the reason why.

The main stars of the film are Carol Lynley, Oliver Reed and Gig Young. Lynley plays the central character, Susanna Felton, who was sent away from her island home when she was just a young girl, but returns many years later to claim her inheritance. Young  plays Susanna’s husband, Mike, and Reed plays island bad boy, Ethan Whately.

Much of the story revolves around a creature that is kept chained up in the attic of the watermill where Susanna’s parents used to live. The creature is not shown until the last few minutes of the film, but the viewer is made aware of its presence throughout the film by being shown the action from the creature’s perspective and the occasional close-up of its chain dragging across the floor.

The Shuttered Room begins with a short pre-credit sequence that shows the young Susanna being tucked into bed by her mother. Her mother has forgotten to lock the attic door though, so when she and her husband go to sleep the thing from the attic creeps down the stairs (one can only presume that she forgot to chain it up as well), wakes up Susanna and scares the living daylights out of her. 

After the attic monster is safely locked away again the opening credits roll against a backdrop of a young woman travelling in a car. This is Susanna, of course, and she is on her way back to the island with her husband. She has no memory of her childhood, but has a bad feeling about returning to the island. So bad in fact, that Mike has to stop the car at one point and let her out. Fortunately he manages to calm her down and persuades her to face her fears and return to the mill. Susanna inherited it on her twenty-first birthday and Mike thinks it may make a good holiday home.

Many of the islanders are related to Susanna, but nobody appears to be glad to see her, except perhaps her Aunt Agatha, and even she is keen to get her to leave the island and tries to frighten her away with stories of a family curse. The witch-like Agatha seems to have a lot of respect on the island, but Mike is not a superstitious man and he is determined that he and Susanna will remain on the island.

It has to be said that Agatha only appears to want to protect the Feltons, but the rest of the islanders appear pretty hostile and Ethan is the worst of a bad bunch. On the one hand he is unhappy about Susanna’s return because he always expected that, when Agatha died, he would inherit the mill. On the other hand, however, he is filled with lust for his cousin, as are many of the local rabble he hangs around with, and for much of the film it is hard not to fear for Mike and Susanna’s safety.

Carol Lynley and Oliver Reed in The Shuttered Room (1967)

There are a few scenes where it looks as if Susanna may be raped or even gang raped, but fortunately Mike is never far away and the first time that Ethan tries to force his attentions on Susanna Mike, demonstrates some pretty snazzy martial arts moves and kicks the bad boy’s ass. There is no doubt who the better man is, but it is a temporary victory. Guys like Ethan never learn and he has plenty of friends who are willing to help him out.

The threat from the local community, and especially from Ethan, remains pretty constant throughout the film and there are some very tense moments, but the viewer is never allowed to forget that there is something nasty up in the attic, and the monster is all the more disturbing because it is unseen.

All in all The Shuttered Room is a pretty good film. The story is a little basic I suppose, and if different actors had been used I doubt that it would have worked as well as it does, but Oliver Reed had such a natural talent for playing the bad guy that he dominates nearly every scene he is in, and Young and Lynley make the Felton’s appear to be such a nice couple that it's is easy to want everything to turn out okay for them.

DVD: The Shuttered Room (1967)

Buying &

Rental Options

The Shuttered Room has a runtime of about an hour and forty minutes and it is a must-see if you are a fan of Oliver Reed. Ditto to that for Carol Lynley fans. It’s is not a particularly fast-paced film though, so if you are looking for high action and/or plenty of special effects, you may be looking in the wrong place. If you prefer creepy to flashy though, and are looking for something to send a few shivers down your spine, give it a try. It might be an oldie, but it is still a goodie and should make a good addition to any collection of horror DVDs.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CAST

Gig Young
Carol Lynley
Oliver Reed
Flora Robson
Judith Arthy
William Devlin
Charles Lloyd Pack
Bernard Kay
Celia Hewitt
Robert Cawdron
Anita Anderson
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Mike Kelton
Susannah / Sarah
Ethan
Aunt Agatha
Emma
Zebulon Whately
The Barge Master
Tait
Aunt Sarah
Luther Whately
Susannah (as a child)

 

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