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Australia 1974
Directed by
Terry Bourke
118 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Inn Of The Damned

An uneasy mix of Hammer horror, Hitchcockian suspense thriller and spaghetti western, writer/director Terry Bourke's clunky story about an Austrian couple (Dame Judith Anderson and Joseph Fürst) running a hostelry deep in the Gippsland forest in Victoria in the 1890s and who, à la Norman Bates, are given to murdering hapless wayfarers, never looks remotely convincing. The film is way too long with little sense of psychological credibility, suspense or even narrative cohesion, Bourke throwing into the mix whatever sprang to his sales-focussed imagination including an American bounty hunter (Alex Cord) complete with red bandana and palomino and an extended sequence concerning a lesbian dalliance between a young woman (Carla Hoogeveen who had appeared in Bourke’s Night Of Fear,1972) and her step-mother (Diana Dangerfield).

Whilst most of the actors, including Tony Bonner and John Meillon, can be forgiven for their involvement due to the limited employment opportunities in the Australian film industry of the time, heaven only knows what Anderson, a highly regarded theatre actress and memorable as the frightful and frightening Mrs Danvers in Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), was doing in this (apparently Joan Bennett was originally cast but quit the production after a dispute with Bourke).

Brian Probyn's cinematography nicely captures the beauty of the Australian bush (the film was shot in New South Wales, not Gippsland) but that’s about all there is to recommend in what can best be described as an oddity in the Australian genre-film catalogue.




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