It’s almost unheard of for me to a) love a period piece, and b) love a movie that runs 2 hours long. But I was only 30 minutes into The House of Violent Desire on Prime when I clicked the DVD on over to my shopping cart.
I watched this film specifically because I’ve already covered and am a fan of other films by Charlie Steeds (Cannibal Farm, Winterskin), but so far I think this is his masterpiece. It is a gorgeously crafted film that combines the majestic sophistication of classic gothic horror with the insanity of 80s Euro horror, then injects a good amount of Marquis de Sade.
The result is a film that’s eerie, frightening, and obscenely erotic with scenes of BDSM, almost all of them homosexual in nature, both male-on-male and female-on-female.
In the tradition of classics like Rebecca and Turn of the Screw, this sick story has servants at a mansion in the 1940s being drawn into the sinister secrets of the wealthy family for which they work.
An African-American woman comes on as the maid and immediately faces racism at the hands of the domineering mother and her snobby, adult children (2 daughters, one son). She also hears stories of murder and mayhem from the kids and the creepy old caretaker, who looks like a worn out version of horror director Mick Garris.
Oh…she’s also told to never go in the attic.
It all sounds quite cliché and obvious, but The House of Violent Desire is whacked!
As a rainstorm rages outside, the Rip Van Winkle looking father goes missing, a mysterious pretty boy who looks like a post-pubescent Anthony Michael Hall shows up in the middle of the night looking for a place to stay, and the Tom Cruise clone fiancé of one of the daughters is staying in the home as well.
Naturally, everyone goes poking around in places they shouldn’t. The thing hidden in the attic comes out to play, the daughters dig into the family’s past, and the son starts to have a big gay sexual awakening with any man he can get his hands on.
And when he commits to something, there’s no holding him back…
The sadistic mother, played brilliantly by actress Rowena Bentley, who stars in all Steeds’ films, seems to add fuel to the fire of every sexually perverse desire taking place in her mansion—homosexuality, lesbianism, BDSM, rape—while acting like she’s the Virgin Mary.
Oh yes, there are hints of religious imagery, such as snakes and apples, but they join in on the perversion instead of fighting against it.
The setting is gothic perfection, with halls and rooms drenched in Argento blues and reds and filled with tension, the horrific thing in the attic is shown just enough to send your imagination reeling, and the sex and violence are both vulgar and explicit while never actually showing anything extreme. Yet, you totally feel it. Ouch.
Despite the 117-minute length, The House of Violent Desire kept me riveted with nonstop surprises as the plot of this totally twisted, dysfunctional family unfolds.
I absolutely love that Steeds set the film in the 1940s so that the “perversions” of the time are normal and loving compared to the fucked up behaviors of the white heterosexuals in this house of debauchery.
Considering how gay this film is, I imagine the artwork showing a woman in bondage is really going to disappoint a whole lot of straight guys. In fact, not only is this film landing on my stud stalking page thanks to the man flesh, it also earns an honorary spot on my homo horror movies page.