House of the Black Death – USA, 1965

‘Shock! Male witchcraft in evil terror!’

House of the Black Death is a 1965 American film directed by Harold Daniels (Annabelle Lee; My World Dies Screaming) and Jerry Warren from a screenplay by Rich Mahoney, apparently based on R. Warner-Crozetti’s novel The Widderburn Horror. It stars Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine and Andrea King.

The film is also known as Blood of the Man Beast (American alternative title), Blood of the Man Devil (American reissue title) and Night of the Beast (shooting title).

Reginald Le Borg (Diary of a MadmanThe Black Sleep; The Mummy’s Ghost; et al) was the 2nd unit director.

Two brothers, both of whom are warlocks, use their powers and covens of witches to battle over the family fortune…

Reviews:

“It’s embarrassing to see old time acting pros in such a rock-bottom movie, although in the cases of Carradine and Chaney, fans ought to have been used to it by this point. Chaney, in robe and cowl and sporting little forehead horns, often looks and acts quite innocent and amiable in his role as the evil warlock while Carradine, playing the kindly warlock, is scowly and sour-bellied.” Tom Weaver, John Carradine: The Films

“John Carradine and Chaney give good performances as a pair of warlocks plagues by werewolves and belly dancers. With the teaming of hacks Warren and Le Borg, the cast is rendered powerless against this dull mess.” Alfred Eaker

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“The only thing that saves this film from being a total failure are Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine who have the ability to make even the crappiest material palatable.  And while the script was garbage, the basic story and premise of the film was actually okay. All it lacked was execution.” The Telltale Mind

” …this incoherent mess of werewolves and witchcraft is pretty bottom of the barrel, though it is enlivened by good performances from Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine, and the occasional effective use of smoke and fog. Beyond that, this is good cure for insomnia.” Dave Sindelar, Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“What’s really missing are any scenes with Carradine and Chaney together. There may have been scheduling difficulties but they do appear on the same set (a desperately unconvincing village square) so a ‘cutaway’ conversation should have been possible.” Mark David Welsh

“This lackluster production is hampered by a weak story overstuffed with metaphysical mumbo-jumbo and spiced up with belly-dancers and cut-price werewolves, and it keeps its dueling warlocks (who look decidedly bored with the entire ordeal) from sharing any scenes together.” AllMovie

Main cast and characters:

  • Lon Chaney Jr. as Belial Desard
  • John Carradine as Andre Desard
  • Andrea King as Dr. Katherine Mallory – BlackensteinThe Beast with Five Fingers
  • Tom Drake as Paul Dessard – Kolchak: The Night StalkerThe Spectre of Edgar Allan Poe; Deadly Inheritance
  • Dolores Faith as Valerie Dessard
  • Sabrina as Belly-dancer
  • Jerome Thor as Dr. Eric Campion
  • Sherwood Keith
  • Catherine Petty
  • George Mitchell
  • Katherine Victor as Lila
  • Margaret Shinn

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