The Black Room
Cast: Stephan Knight, Cassandra Gaviola, Linnea Quigley
An interesting horror movie, though mainly in the sense
that it's more
"interesting" than entertaining, The Black Room will at
be watchable for most viewers. The viewers with more patience and
tastes will find this the most rewarding.
Los Angeles. In a darkened room lit only by candles, a
love, not knowing there are unseen observers watching them from
Eventually, the voyeurs secretly step into the room, and murder the
couple. Days later, in another part of L.A., a married man reading the
classified ads sees an ad for a room for rent for the use of couples
to indulge in something different. Curious, the man inquires at the
occupied by a mysterious brother and sister. The black-draped room, for
a low rent, offers piped-in music, alcohol, and candles. The man sees
perfect, pays the first month's rent, and goes home to tell his wife
the room. But not in the sense that you are thinking. That night, and
nights, he tells his wife about his kinky "fantasies" of making love to
various women in a mysterious black room. What she doesn't know that
fantasies that he tells her are actually recollections of his various
with prostitutes and other women earlier that day. Meanwhile, the
and sister watch and photograph these going-ons.
Eventually, she discovers by accident that what her
husband tells her
are not fictional stories. Hurt, she decides to look at the black room
herself, meeting the brother of the sibling duo. Partly in sadness, and
partly for revenge, she initiates an affair with the brother in the
room. Meanwhile, unknown to the man and his wife, the brother and
are secretly killing the man's flings when he leaves or when he arrives
late. It turns out that the brother suffers from a rare blood disease,
which can only be cured with large amounts of "donor" blood. Though the
man is currently bringing in enough fresh blood, the increasing amount
of transfusion means that the brother and sister will need a larger
It's interesting to see this movie now in the AIDS era.
that the brother is being held back from the deadly effects of his
disease with transfusions - and these transfusions being provided
from sexual activity. Also, it's interesting that a movie made before
having a negative portrayal of casual sexual activity; of course,
the cliché straight from slasher movie of "sex before death", but
it's also interesting that all the people who indulge in casual sex are
shown to be pretty dumb and unsympathetic people. On this note, there
a problem; there is really no one to root for in this movie. We can't
for the brother and sister, because they are murderers. And we find it
hard to root for the man because he's an adulterer, and dumb to boot.
sympathy might be generated for the wife because of her betrayal, she's
not that much smarter than her husband, and we don't really feel any
or curiosity she might be feeling. And the various women the husband
into the black room are really just mindless bimbos.
Storywise, it's disappointing. Much of the movie is
focused on the relationship
with the man and his wife, or of the encounters in the black room. The
relationship of the siblings, and their need for blood, is surprising
afterthought. The climax of the movie is also pretty disappointing. It
becomes laughable when various people keep getting killed, and coming
to life. There's a scene involving a closet which is a blatant rip-off
of a scene from Halloween. However, I will give director
Kennedy credit for somehow managing to deliver a genuine jolt with this
scene, despite it not being original. And there isn't really an ending,
with the fate of the brother and sister not being resolved.
There's still a lot to like in The Black Room, though.
The movie does give the sex scenes a somewhat surprising light
by themselves (little nudity). Director Kennedy instead adds to the
by mood; The addition of voyeurs watching adds eroticism, as
as the candlelit lighting, quietness, and slow motion. The camerawork
gets marks for activity outside of the room with some impressive
work, especially during a point-of-view shot during a foot chase. And
there are several scenes where the blood really flows, it's admirable
the filmmakers were trying very hard to make the movie chilling during
the non-gory parts. Since, however, the movie is mainly focused on the
relationships of the participants, there isn't much chance for the
to work on this.
The Black Room is a curiosity, nothing
more, nothing less.
Certainly, it's nothing to be really ashamed about - it is frequently
an interesting movie. On the other hand, I don't think it's quite what
renters will be expecting if they pick it up and look at the box. The
feels more like a practice run than a full-out effort, so peel your
or fold your laundry during the parts when the movie deserves the least
of your attention.
for availability on Amazon (VHS)
See also: The Black Room, Crawlspace, Don't Go In