Get this film if at all possible. You will find a really good performance by Barbara Bach, beautiful cinematography of a stately (and incredibly clean) but creepy old house, and an unexpected virtuoso performance by
"The Unseen". I picked up a used copy of this film because I was interested in seeing more of Bach, whom I'd just viewed in "The Spy Who Loved Me." I love really classically beautiful actresses and appreciate them even more if they can act a little. So: we start with a nice fresh premise. TV reporter Bach walks out on boyfriend and goes to cover a festival in a California town, Solvang, that celebrates its Swedish ancestry by putting on a big folk festival. She brings along a camerawoman, who happens to be her sister, and another associate. (The late Karen Lamm plays Bach's sister, and if you know who the celebrities are that each of these ladies is married to, it is just too funny watching Bach (Mrs. Ringo Starr) and Lamm (Mrs. Dennis Wilson) going down the street having a sisterly quarrel.)) Anyway
Bach's disgruntled beau follows her to Solvang, as he's not done arguing with her. There's a lot of feeling still between them but she doesn't wanna watch him tear himself up anymore about his down-the-drain football career. The ladies arrive in Solvang to do the assignment for their station, only to find their reservations were given away to someone else. (Maybe to Bach's boyfriend, because think of it where's he gonna stay?). The gals ask around but there is just nowhere to go. Mistakenly trying to get into an old hotel which now serves only as a museum, they catch the interest of proprietor Mr. Keller (the late Sidney Lassick), who decides to be a gentleman and lodge them at his home, insisting his wife will be happy to receive them. Oh no! Next thing we know Keller is making a whispered phone call to his wife, warning her that company's coming and threatening that she'd better play along. Trouble in paradise! The ladies are eager to settle in and get back to Solvang to shoot footage and interview Swedes, but one of the girls doesn't feel good. Bach and Lamm leave her behind, wondering to themselves about Mrs. Keller (played heartbreakingly by pretty Lelia Goldoni) who looks like she just lost her best pal. Speaking of which
under-the-weather Vicki slips off her clothes and gets into a nice hot tub, not realizing that Keller has crept into her room to inspect the keyhole. She hears him, thinks he's come to deliver linen, and calls out her thanks. Lassick did a great job in this scene expressing the anguish of a fat old peeping tom who didn't get a long enough look. After he's left, poor Vicki tumbles into bed for a nap but gets yanked out of it real fast (in a really decent, frightening round of action) by something BIG that has apparently crept up through a grille on the floor
The Unseen! Lamm comes home next (Bach is out finishing an argument with her beau) and can't find anyone in the house. She knocks over a plate of fruit in the kitchen, and, on hands and knees to collect it, her hair and fashionable scarf sway temptingly over the black floor grille
attracting The Unseen again! Well, at about the time poor Lamm is getting her quietus in the kitchen, we do a flashback into Mr. Keller's past and get the full story of what his sick, sadistic background really is and why his wife doesn't smile much. Bach finally gets home and wants to know where her friends are. Meanwhile, Lassick has been apprised of the afternoon's carnage by his weeping wife and decides he can't let Bach off the premises to reveal the secret of his home. He tempts her down into the basement where the last act of the Keller family tragedy finally opens to all of us.
I cannot say enough for Stephen Furst, whom I'd never seen before; it's obvious that he did his homework for this role, studying the methods of communication and expression of the brain damaged; Bach and Goldoni, each in their diverse way, just give the movie luster. Not only that, but movie winds up with a satisfying resolution. No stupid cheap tricks, eyeball-rolling dialog or pathetically cut corners... A real treat for your collection.