Elvira's Movie Macabre: Maneater of Hydra / The House That Screamed

Elvira's Movie Macabre: Maneater of Hydra / The House That Screamed
While it would seem odd that even Elvira, Mistress of the Dark occasionally has difficulty finding suitable fodder for her kitsch canon, even she has to reach, at times. Renowned for hunting out the best of the worst in B-horror, this collection proves that some films are too much — or little — even for her witty banter and expectation of audience approval. An amalgamation of Blood Feast and Little Shop Of Horrors, Maneater Of Hydra depicts a group of tourists vacationing at a lush, secluded island occupied by a demented botanist. Having engineered a strain of carnivorous plants, he seduces sightseers into visiting his holiday retreat in order to feed his creations. As ludicrous as the premise proves to be, it’s not until the "acting” and deplorable "effects” come into play that Maneater Of Hydra becomes more painful than being digested by one of Baron von Weser’s (Cameron Mitchell) flora. Were there a degree of tongue-in-cheek employed with this ridiculousness, it could have been quite enticing. Thanks to the overindulgence by underachievers though, the flick flickers out fast. In regards to The House That Screamed, there are moments of incredible, definitive horror, few though they are. Revolving around a 19th Century boarding school for girls, The House That Screamed feels like a precursor to ’80s schlocker Reform School Girls. A group of troubled teens are stashed away in a breeding school and have difficulty succumbing to the rules of etiquette their headmistress (Lilli Palmer) struggles to instil. Seemingly running away, it’s soon discovered that they are in fact being kidnapped and murdered. The killings take too long to get into as the story is set up, and there are far too few for that matter. However, when the teens are slaughtered the array of slow motion techniques and realistic demises are brilliant, almost as unsettling as the overall premise, or tedium, of sitting through the introduction. Still, the odd commercial break tirades by Elvira aren’t enough to provide a reprieve from a house that whimpers more than truly screams. Again, there are no DVD extras. (Shout! Factory)