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Terror at Red Wolf Inn (1972)

March 28th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 6 Comments

Mill Creek has put out a new movie collection entitled NO TELL MOTEL, which offers eight horror films focusing on ill-advised overnights in dangerous locations. The first disc sports spiffy letterboxed titles like VACANCY (a decent enough thriller) IDENTITY (love that one) and ELI ROTH’s HOSTEL and its first sequel (both semi-annoying and yet very interesting and disturbing). The second disc consists of several public domain flicks with lackluster quality of various degrees. There’s the ubiquitous THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE (a favorite) IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE INN (haven’t had the pleasure), LEGACY OF BLOOD (skip it) and a charming, low budget oddity that has always stuck in my brain, TERROR AT RED WOLF INN (I had to get this whole set just for this one film).

TERROR AT RED WOLF INN isn’t represented as well as it should be but until a superior version is available it’ll just have to do. Sadly this is a PG-rated version of the 1972 movie that is also known as TERROR HOUSE and THE FOLKS AT RED WOLF INN. This particular cut is ten minutes shorter than the one I watched on VHS back in the day but from what I’ve gathered (Googled), the missing scenes don’t amount to too much. Ironically, this truncated, supposedly tamer arrangement contains a violent scene where a character beats a small shark against a rock and I’d much rather have that unsightly bit excised above anything else. They took out a visual of human fingers in a soup bowl and left behind a scene of actual animal abuse? I guess there’s no way to understand the randomness of the rating system.

The movie introduces us to a charming, quirky and too-trusting character named Regina (Linda Gillen) who suspiciously wins a weekend vacation over the phone (much like the set-up for I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER). Soon she’s jumping on a plane and taking advice from strangers that she needn’t inform anyone about her dubious getaway prize. There’s no doubt that Regina has made a major judgment error when the house she’s meant to relax in turns out to be the same joint (Newhall Mansion) featured in DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW and countless horror-themed TV episodes. Her hosts are oldsters Henry and Evelyn Smith (Arthur Space and Mary Jackson) and their touched in the head grandson Baby John (John Neilson), all of whom would seem equally comfortable inhabiting MOTEL HELL or AMERICAN GOTHIC. Two other contest winners have already arrived (Janet Wood and Margaret Averly) and it’s not long before they’re all being fattened up with gluttonous course after gluttonous course of meats of highly questionable origin. Warning: Do not watch this movie if you suffer from misophonia and object to the sounds and sights of folks with terrible table manners munching out and licking their greasy fingers.

RED WOLF INN feels a lot like a seventies made for television affair and maybe that’s why I dig it so. It’s got an offbeat sense of humor too that never goes far enough over the top to bring you out of the paranoid predicament. It’s also genuinely unnerving in spots, utilizing distorted camera angles to disquieting effect. There’s something about simply sticking an idiosyncratic tomboy-type in a giant old mansion that’s always going to hit me in my horror comfort zone. I could have used a little more background information regarding just about every character overall, but there’s something to be said of the simplistic approach that plays out almost like a gingerbread house fable. Plus, it’s got a message that’s still valuable today: Young people, please never assume that the generations ahead of you have your best interest at heart. Spoiler alert: They don’t. Amusing, delightfully odd and routinely creepy, TERROR AT RED WOLF INN is an appetizing seventies offering worth making room on your plate for. It’s also a great reminder that the best way to avoid cannibalism is to become a vegetarian.

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chuckles72No Gravatar // Mar 29, 2019 at 9:01 am

    Yeah, the ratings system is nuts. Jack Nicholson had a quote back in the day, something along the lines of “Cut off a woman’s breast with a sword, they give you a PG. Kiss it, and it’s an R.”

    I’ve actually seen Terror at the Red Wolf Inn but I have no idea how. Must have been a renter on VHS back in the day.

  • 2 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 29, 2019 at 10:32 am

    Here it is on Youtube… wish I had the full version but I’ll live…

  • 3 Ben SNo Gravatar // Mar 29, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    I’ve wanted to see this ever since I fished the VHS out of the discount bin at my local Woolworth! WHY didn’t I buy it then?!?!? Maybe I’ll pick up this set. IT HAPPENED AT NIGHTMARE INN is great. It’s also known as A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL. I think you’ll love it! Judy Geeson vs. sexually repressed fanatic murderous sisters who run a hotel!

  • 4 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Mar 29, 2019 at 1:16 pm

    Ben S,
    IHANI sounds awesome! How have I missed it all these years? Can’t wait to check it out now, thanks for the heads up!

  • 5 bdwilcoxNo Gravatar // Mar 30, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    “Terror at the Red Wolf Inn” gave me such an acute 70’s overdose that I experienced heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, dry mouth, rectal bleeding, hives, dizziness and an erection that lasted more than 4 hours. I immediately called my physician and told him to watch it as well. Great flick.

  • 6 GrokensteinNo Gravatar // Apr 1, 2019 at 5:50 am

    I’ve chased down Japanese and Italian DVDs of Terror at Red Wolf Inn–no doubt bootlegs–and the quality was just awful. Maybe someday it’ll get a decent Blu-Ray release. Mill Creek’s “eight movies on two discs” treatment is unappetizing.

    Legacy of Blood? (checks shelf) …Ah, right, the one that Cinematic Titanic riffed. The only memorable thing about it is the gag at the end, and that’s no great shakes either.

    The Devil’s Nightmare DID get a sweet Blu-Ray release from Mondo Macabro; right now it’s in that limbo between the release of the Limited Edition (which sold old pretty quickly) and a standard edition (due in about a month) minus some of the bells and whistles–collector’s slipcover, etc.

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