User Reviews (12)

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  • A couple of obvious continuity problems caught my eye, but I won't get into it. I did not care for the ghosts and they were never explained. All viewers will feel extremely cheated by the ending.

    It's set in a visual interesting House of Usher decorated mainly with flowing drapes and robed statues. That held my attention, but then I got angry about the last scene.
  • This movie can hardly be considered to be an adaptation of Poe, because it barely has any touch points. They are built on the same base, but the construction is completely different. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it is. Ideas that changed Poe's story are not that bad, but the realization is lousy. The complete scenery screams FAKE, the story is inconsistent, acting mediocre, directing like in porn, and ending knocks the final nail in the coffin. If we simply cut the last scene and end movie with the one before, without any changes, we'll get an average '80s B horror ending. Why did they feel the need to additionally annoy viewers, already annoyed by wasting an hour and a half on a crappy movie, by adding terribly stupid, inconsistent, illogical and most of all redundant nonsense to the movie that already had a decent ending in the previous scene... I have a feeling that team, who spent their lives making porn exclusively, suddenly decided to make Poe adaptation. If that's true, good job guys, but if it's not the case, then please, change profession, or at least keep your hands off of classics.

  • Ryan Usher (Rufus Swart) and his girlfriend Molly (Romy Windsor) head to his uncle's isolated estate after receiving a letter from him. Before arriving they crash their car when they see two ghost children on the road. Molly makes it to the home and is told Ryan has already been picked up and is being cared for. She then meets uncle Roderick (Oliver Reed), who assures her all is fine despite his reluctance to let her visit Ryan and the fact he won't let her leave. Yup, ol' Roderick is a perv and, after burying the still-alive Ryan, forces himself onto Molly to carry on the family line. Also, in a nod to THE OLD DARK HOUSE, a crazy brother named Walter (Donald Pleasence) lives up in the attic. As you can see, this barely has any connection to the Poe short story outside of a few events and character names. Filmed in South Africa, producer Towers at least got his monies worth with some nice looking sets. And leads Reed and Pleasence are total pros, although I suspect Reed enjoyed his moments feeling up the attractive Windsor (who was already accustomed to primordial beasts as she just survived HOWLING IV). Director Alan Birkinshaw can't be bothered with things like suspense or terror though. He does throw in a few gore scenes for good measure. Towers' two other Poe "adaptations" were MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH (1989; with Frank Stallone and Herbert Lom!) and BURIED ALIVE (1990).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Comment title paraphrases French & Saunders' skit on the 'The House of Elliot'. But here, it's application is unquestionably adroit.

    A rare directorial effort from the man responsible for 1978's video-nasty-that-never-was, 'Killer's Moon', produced by soft-porn Eurotrash (ie TRASH, as in rubbish, junk) magnate Harry Alan Towers.

    A slightly modernised version of Poe's Gothic saga; due to the complete technical incompetence of the above pair all this has to offer, in the way of thrills, is shaking furniture and fires. Pleasance jobs as the 'sinister' butler, which is at least a plot twist that affords him the opportunity to do something interestingly nasty (an off-screen incident involving an in-subservient maid's hand, and a meat mincer).

    An experience akin to scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel - only, from beneath.
  • Soon-to-be-wed American couple Ryan (Rufus Swart) and Molly (Romy Windsor) travel to England to meet Ryan's uncle Roderick (Oliver Reed) at the family mansion, which is slowly sinking into a swamp. Whilst driving to the estate, the couple are shocked to see two ghostly kids standing in the middle of the road, and crash their car into a tree. Ryan is knocked unconscious, so Molly runs to the Usher home for help; convinced that an ambulance has been called for her injured fianc√©, Molly rests, but ultimately finds herself a prisoner of Roderick, who wants the girl for himself, to carry his seed and continue his lineage.

    Fancying himself as a bit of a Roger Corman, director Alan Birkinshaw tackled two Edgar Allen Poe adaptations in 1989, The Masque of the Red Death (which I have yet to see, but has a lousy rating), and what has to be the worst film ever to be inspired by The Fall of the House of Usher. Not only does the plot bear little resemblance to Poe's original story, but Birkinshaw's handling of the film is lousy, the director commanding hilariously bad performances from Oliver Reed and Donald Pleasence (both slumming it at this point in their careers), and staging the whole mess in some of the cruddiest movie sets imaginable: not just hideous to look at (garish paintwork, amateurish murals, ugly statues) but quite obviously fake, with flimsy plywood and polystyrene constructions masquerading as stonework and marble.

    The movie makes no sense whatsoever, so much so that Birkinshaw wraps up matters with one of those cyclical, 'it was all a dream' endings that excuses the script's many flaws by closing the story as it began: with the soon-to-be-wed Ryan and Molly driving to the home of Roderick Usher. The fact that none of what we have seen has really happened means that no explanation is necessary for the two ghostly children that periodically appear, or for the extreme loyalty of the Usher's staff and family doctor, or for why Roderick's supposedly wheelchair-bound lunatic brother Walter (Pleasence) remains a prisoner when he can actually walk and there are numerous passages and secret doors by which he could leave.

    Of course, films this bad can also prove to be quite entertaining, and the last twenty minutes are a riot: Pleasence goes kill crazy, hacking off the head of housekeeper Mrs. Derrick (Anne Stradi) and mutilating mute maid Gwen (Carole Farquhar) with his wrist mounted drill, and Reed drops all pretence of being a serious actor and gives one of the craziest performances of his career, which is saying something. The finale sees Reed and Pleasence having a scrap (which is worth the price of admission alone), during which a fire starts, all that plywood and polystyrene going up a treat.

    4/10 - It's an interior decorator's nightmare, a film to set Poe spinning in his grave, and an insult to the viewer's intelligence, but I couldn't help but like it just a bit.
  • kevinrvs19 February 2021
    The most God awful butcher of a fantastic tale. Garbled. There's 'interpretation' and there's completely distorted. Then there's this film. I can't tell you how bad it is in every way.
  • I sat down to watch this remake of the classic "The House of Usher" tale, as based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe. Sure, I am familiar with the written story, but I've never actually seen a movie adaptation of the story. So I was a little bit excited to get to watch this 1989.

    Turns out that the excitement was a bit short lived, as this movie was hardly a grand cinematic masterpiece. Sure, the movie was watchable, but it hadn't aged well. And sitting down in 2021 to watch this movie was a bit toe-curling and somewhat laughable of an experience.

    The storyline is good enough, of course, and the transition from penned words to live action movie is well enough. But the movie just lacks atmosphere, and the props throughout the movie were just too fake. I mean, the stone slabs passing as being a coffin was just so clearly and obviously made from Styrofoam or something like that, because the actress had no trouble moving them without breaking a sweat.

    "The House of Usher" does have an interesting ensemble of casted actors and actresses, which includes Oliver Reed and Donald Pleasence, two very well-familiar names and faces. But even they could only do so much for director Alan Birkinshaw's 1989 movie.

    While based on a very iconic tale, this 1989 movie is hardly a memorable movie. While it was watchable, it just didn't fully bring enough entertainment to the table.

    My rating of "The House of Usher" lands on a four out of ten stars. I would suggest you read the story instead, as it has more atmosphere and entertainment value.
  • Oliver Reed, Donald Pleasence. Two of my all time favourite actors. Edgar Allan Poe. What could go wrong? Sadly quite a lot. These two great actors play brothers, living in the same house but have not seen each other for 15 years, apparently. Bit hard to digest that. Ollie plays sleazy Uncle Roderick, thankfully he does have plenty of on screen time. Pleasence however is not seen until an hour in. And not one of his finest roles. Usher is set in a fabulous Gothic mansion, good exterior shots. The interior has a rich colour palate, reminded me somewhat of Dario Argento's classics from the 1970's. However there is a cheapness in the look of these sets, especially when the obviously fake masonry starts to crumble. This film took a while to get going in terms of horror. It is a poor adaptation of the Poe tale and was ultimately watchable but somewhat disappointing. So now to my dilemma - I recently bought a nice, clean copy of this on VHS. The box with its artwork looks good but in all honesty I'll probably never watch it again. As a collector I don't like to lose tapes but I'm torn as to whether there is much point in hanging on to this one.
  • There are only a few parts in the movie I liked. the rest wasn't even scary at all. The acting was good but I really didn't care for this story to be updated. I guess the gore was OK. The music was ok. It was to 80's. Over all I don't really recommend this movie to anyone cause it just wasn't worth watching. It really didn't catch my attention at all. Maybe if your board watch it but thats it.
  • Harry ALan Towers' produced this, another remake of Poe's classic tale. Oliver Reed does a lot of whispering and Donald Pleasence runs around a lot with his chainsaw. Not really a very good film but worth a look for it's two stars, who are again lumbered with a none too bright script.The youngsters Rufus Swart and Romy Windsor are positively dire, but scenes like a hungry rat being placed on a man's privates are quite fun to watch.
  • lord_nikon7823 February 2006
    This depiction of Edgar Allen Poe's classic tale is a big joke. I never bash movies but this film had unrealistic acting and came off to me a just plain humorous. Retro 80's music is great, but fails to tell a valid story without seeming comical. Tries to maintain seriousness but ultimately fails. All of Oliver Reed's reaction scenes towards smells are too funny. Possible conception of the house "settling" and falling apart may symbolize how Usher's decomposition in health is apparent. The only reason you should consider viewing this film is the great Donald Pleasence plays Usher's brother. Terrible looking fake sets combined with boring visuals leaves this film to be a yawner. Unnecessary ending...Viewer beware!
  • westley346 May 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    This movies starts put okay, gets bad about a quarter of the way through, and just keeps getting worse and worse as it goes on. Unless you are into really bad '80s horror I definitely suggest skipping this really horrible movie. The only upside is Oliver Reed gives a pretty good (though disturbing) performance. Pleasence really hams it up though. This is a complete butchering of Poe's story.