This has got to be where it all begins as far as deranged weird families who abuse and murder unfortunates, i.e. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hills Have Eyes, House of 1000 Corpses etc… 1968. This is the grandfather of all of these films and what a film it is. Black comedy, kitsch, disturbing, schlocky, demented and depraved. It’s bad taste with pure charm and a magic not often seen.
The plot centres around the Merrye Family. The three remaining children are being looked after by the family chauffer Bruno (Lon Chaney Jnr.) after the passing of their father; all have a rare genetic disorder, Merrye Syndrome caused by inbreeding resulting in mental regression. All is good until distant family gold diggers come looking for their share in the family estate.
Jack Hill Directs this dangerous film with stunning casting and memorable performances. Sig Haig is amazing as Ralph Merrye in one of his earliest films. Jill Banner has real screen presence and a real unforgettable role as Virginia Merrye, arguably one of the greatest Scream Queens. Beverley Washburn is the other sister, Elizabeth who is equally as captivating. All three offer childlike innocence to their roles as they play demented games such as Spider, where a victim is tied up with rope and then stabbed with a pair of scissors. It’s beautiful, and deadly and totally irresistible and impossible to take your eyes from the screen.
Another highlight, Lon Chaney Jnr. who propels the three young actors whilst sitting back in this role, instead taking the spotlight through singing the track over the opening credits which instantly sets the mood for this disturbing little piece of quality B Movie class.