Mansion of the Doomed (1976)

“Mansion of the Doomed” is an obscure but good horror film, one which I managed to see in a theater when it was first released back in 1976. Strangely enough, the story about a surgeon descending into madness because he was the cause of his daughter’s blindness, works on two levels. As the guilt-ridden Dr. Chaney (Richard Basehart) attempts to restore his daughter’s sight, literally removing the eyeballs of unwilling victims and transplanting them, one feels pity for this misguided man. In his madness, Chaney also believes he will eventually restore the eyesight of all of his victims, which makes him even more driven. At the same time, the victims are all imprisoned in a basement cell in the doctor’s house, where they, themselves eventually go insane. The horror element lies with the attempts of these horribly mutilated souls to both escape and exact revenge on their captors. The cast is very good considering the limited material they had to work with (most of the shocks are visual) and play their parts with feeling. Besides Basehart, there is onetime screen siren Gloria Grahame as his assistant. Unfortunately, she is given little to do, but it’s still good to see her. Trish Stewart is the daughter who eventually realizes where all the eyes are coming from. And Lance Henricksen is her boyfriend (and the first victim). Well directed by Michael Pataki and broodingly photographed, “Mansion of the Doomed”, despite it’s low budget, is an out-of-the-mainstream terror film, which inspires as much sorrow as fear.