Friday, January 29, 2010


Should you travel back in time to 1896 and find yourself in the wilds of Gippsland, Australia, do yourself a favor and find accomodations other than the Straulle Inn, owned by the bizarre couple Caroline and Lazar. Because, in case the title didn’t make it obvious, you won’t leave.

See, the Straulles, still a bit loopy after the deaths of their young children at the hands of some convicts many years ago, are in cahoots with their coachman, Biscayne, to rob and kill wealthy travelers via ingeniously-booby trapped beds. Elsewhere, Trooper Moore and Yankee bounty hunter Carl Kincaid are hot on Biscayne’s trail for a horrible murder he committed some years back, without the aid of the Straulle’s. Every killer needs to do a little evil on the side, after all, otherwise it’s just work. In between those plots is an unrelated bit of fluff involving a pair of hard-looking young ladies who take a bath together and sleep naked, though one insists she’s not into that sort of thing.

It all leads to a climax where one set of characters does their damnedest to kill another set of characters, using every method of death-dealing ever devised by man. It may not make a lot of sense, or even unfold in a remotely interesting fashion, but Inn of the Damned sure is bloody.

This awkward Aussie Outback western was, at the time, one of the most expensive Austrailian movies ever and thanks to the documentary Not Quite Hollywood has received a renewed bit of interest among exploitation fans. The problems are multiple—it’s dull, some of the accents can’t be decyphered without an Enigma machine, the actors are awful with scarcely a single exception (depending how low your thespian standards are), and the naked lesbians are scarier than the villains. But it does have a gleefully violent climax that unfortunately gives way to a ponderous “Hitchcockian” denoument, minus Hitch’s style or dark sense of humor. In fact, director Terry Bourke lacks just about everything a director needs to make a competent movie, save maybe a pulse. The actors come off more often than not as clumsy at best, and the plodding pace makes the viewing a real challenge.

Lone American Alex Cord, as Kincaid, makes for an odd hero, particularly contrasted with the upright, clean and brave Trooper Moore. Kincaid is grubby and dim and it’s a miracle that he made it as far as he did in life without accidentally sitting on his revolver.

Still, if you’re an Ozsploitation completist, then Inn of the Damned is a necessarly evil. The DVD is easy to come by… that’s about as much encouragement as I can give you. As usual, we at Movie Outlaw stand by our motto: “You’ve seen worse.”

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