The Shuttered Room

shuttered rooml
Based on a “posthumous collaboration” between H.P. LOVECRAFT and AUGUST DERLETH, 1967’s THE SHUTTERED ROOM gained mucho frequent frightener miles during repeated television airings in the seventies. Susannah Kelton (CAROL LYNLEY) and her husband Mike (GIG YOUNG) return to her recently inherited childhood home on Dunwich Island in hopes that the property can be used as a summer retreat. It’s clear upon their arrival that the local yokels are not too keen on city folk, as they try to ward the couple off with tales of an ancient curse and stories of a demon that’s fond of burning one’s eyes out. The native islander’s inhospitality eventually expands to include unneighborly rape attempts on young LYNLEY whenever she’s left alone. The biggest bully in the bunch is a swaggering, contorted cousin doing a swishy MARLON BRANDO impersonation named Ethan (OLIVER REED). Luckily, long in the tooth Hubby GIG is quick with cornball karate moves and is able to extinguish most of these pre-STRAW DOGS advances. The dwelling in question , which we really do not get to spend enough time in, is an ominous, genuinely spooky and sufficiently LOVECRAFT-IAN looking beast. The creaky witch lighthouse of old Aunt Agatha (FLORA ROBSON) is equally convincing in helping the U.K surroundings masquerade as New England. Unfortunately, the mostly British cast (some badly dubbed) don’t fare quite as well. DAVID GREENE‘s direction offers some disturbing P.O.V. shots of whatever is hiding in the wings ready to pounce and the unlikely jazz score works well to establish a tone of near constant disorientation. LOVECRAFT‘s vision (even his questionable posthumous vision) is notoriously hard to pull off on screen (STUART GORDON excepted). THE SHUTTERED ROOM doesn’t do much to change that theory and it’s not because all the ingredients are not in place and ready to go. Hanging out with the townies while we should be investigating the titular room is eventually wearing. By the time the shock climax is unwrapped, viewers can be forgiven if they forgot they were watching a horror film at all. Although the entire affair is begging to be streamlined (could the shorter edit BLOOD ISLAND be an improvement?), THE SHUTTERED ROOM is offbeat and strange enough that it’s reputation to unnerve is not that hard to fathom.
indelible scenes

  • Road skiing leads to barbed wire wipe out
  • One-eyed welder on the welcoming committee
  • Reed’s obscene jeans
  • Aunt Agatha’s crazy-faced bird
  • Hiding in the dollhouse
  • Teddy bear torch! Best invention ever!

shuttered rooml

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14 years ago

Hey, LOVE the site!

Glad I ran across it & decided to come aboard. It not only brings back a lot of great old memories, but it also makes me REALLY want to check out the few things that somehow managed to slip through the cracks of my childhood & youth without my having seen it.

As for THE SHUTTERED ROOM, it was always a favorite of mine as a kid back when it was in frequent rotation among our local station’s late night movies. During which, I must have watched it at least four or five times over the years.

Then, I went the better part of a couple of decades without seeing it until catching a telecast of it on cable a couple of years ago. Which I thoroughly enjoyed in a nostalgic sense, but was surprised by how slow it really was for the most part.

You know how it is as a kid, everything was so much bigger & brighter & the movies were rarely, if ever, dull. Hell, Back then THE SHUTTERED ROOM was all non-stop action, edge of your seat suspense & skin crawling terror! LOL

Still, despite it’s obvious flaws & far from classic status, it’s something I’ll still likely revisit every few years or so & probably pick up on DVD one of these days. So, thanks for the cool little reminder about this ol’ fav of mine!


– Jim

14 years ago

I agree with yout assesment Jim.  I too watched the  “Shuttered Room” at age 7.  It was very creepy in its attempt to open the locked door to many forgotten memories by the character Lynley played. Looking back, I don’t know really about her talent, seems to me she was more eye candy and less substance…(Was she the product of some sugar daddy husband/producer?)  

Today that project could be given another chance.  The storyline has so much potential…hitting on the shame that some families feel when a child is born with a mental disability.  They could play up the mistreatment plot that led to ‘the devil.”  Oliver’s part could be exploited with his incentual tendencies…maybe as a teen, he abuses the young mentally disabled cousin when she is prepubescent?   

They could twist a sub-plot that she was never mentally ill in the first place and was misdiagnoised incorrectly, by the old small town doctor.  “The devil” could have been deaf and was a created monster by years of isolation and non-interaction.

The trespasserer’s who encountered the girl when she was young could still be used as clearly classic “curiosity kill the cat” losers. 

The mentally disabled twin sister, cousin, and town recluse who by no means was ever given love and care by her family…could break loose, when the old aunt dies and no one knows of the secrect the aunt has attended to so many years.

I know I liked the movie as a kid because it was entertaining in my search for more scary stories.  I watched the “Shuttered Room” on a old “do not attempt to adjust your picture…this is only a test” 21″ b/w Zenith.  I’ll never forget the plethora of rerun sci-fi series or “The Innocence” feed to me by that old boob-tube they were “mystery which reaches from the inner mind.”