Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange – “Mansion of the Doomed” (1975)

Following in the footsteps of such perfection-minded but misguided medicos as Dr. Genessier in “Eyes Without a Face” and Jesus Franco’s awful Dr. Orloff, surgeon Richard Basehart decides that the only way to assuage his guilt over accidentally blinding his daughter (Trish Stewart) in a car accident is to drug visitors to his home and passers-by alike, remove their eyes and transplant them into his daughter, despite her increasing protestations. Beefy character actor Michael Pataki (“Rocky IV”) directed this queasy surgical horror film for veteran low-budget producer Albert Band and his then-24-year-son, Charles, who would later produce numerous cult favorites in the 1980s, including “Re-Animator” and the “Ghoulies” franchise, among others, through his Empire and Full Moon imprints. Basehart and noir favorite Gloria Grahame, as his long-suffering assistant, lend the production some class and numerous close-ups of eyeless socket makeup (by Stan Winston) on Lance Henriksen and other victims should keep the cellar dwellers happy, though footage of real eye surgery may put others off their Thanksgiving leftovers. Full Moon’s DVD includes the original trailer and spots for other Band library titles, including the “MST3K” favorite “Laserblast” and “The Day Time Ended.”

About Paul Gaita

Paul Gaita lives in Sherman Oaks, California with his lovely wife and daughter. He has written for The Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Variety and The Fix, among many other publications, and was a home video reviewer for Amazon.com from 1998 to 2014. He has interviewed countless entertainment figures from both the A and Z lists, but his favorites remain Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury and George Newall, who created both Schoolhouse Rock and the Hai Karate aftershave commercials. He once shared a Thanksgiving dinner with celebrity astrologer Joyce Jillson, and regrettably, still owes the late character actor Charles Napier a dollar.
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