A Tale of Wood and Condoms

Deadly Manor fuses Universal’s haunted house horror tropes and the gory glee of ‘80s slashers. Coffins in the basement, a thunderstorm outside, and throats sliced inside – Deadly Manor isn’t much for surprises.

Actually, Deadly Manor isn’t much for anything. Near an hour of the runtime pans around a college age crew, none convincing in their parts, investigating rooms in an abandoned (maybe) mansion. Personalities ring hollow. Comic relief nudges things toward genre parody.

Of interest, the final moments when the vain killer is revealed. Deadly Manor strikes at ‘80s era vanity and the older generation detesting the kids who no longer respect it. That’s clever, if far too late. Boredom crushed any intrigue long before.

Deadly Manor teeters on that satirical line, if never fully engaging on it

One character is smart enough to realize a lonely mansion in a forest doesn’t represent safety. She’s a hero, smiting the genre’s repetition by using brains, and mocking the tough guys who see themselves as invincible. Even after discovering sealed coffins in a crypt, the decision is made to stay the night. At that point, they deserve their fate. Deadly Manor teeters on that satirical line, if never fully engaging on it. Instead, it’s a routine of wandering through rooms, poking flashlights around, some sex, and finally – mercifully even – some droll action.

Director Jose Ramon Larraz knew this genre prior to Deadly Manor. Stuff like Vampyres and Whirlpool stand out, but Deadly Manor (his directing finale) lacks footing. It’s a film trapped by its identity, bound by a typical playbook, if seeking something distinct to energize the then dying slasher (but never finding that something).

Also known as Savage Lust, that title unarguably carries more zip, aligning more with HBO’s ‘90s late night adult block. Under either name though, there’s no substance underneath. Deadly Manor spends an hour trying to an interested audience and itself.

Video

Arrow gives this film more attention than anyone prior. Promoted as a 2K scan, the sharpness and definition at times looks more akin to 4K – exteriors utilize forest scenery extensively, the resolution pinpoint enough to pick up natural separation between branches or leaves. While not photographed with the sharpest style, facial texture shows even in a mansion limited in light sources.

Mild, natural grain remains consistent. That’s no cause for alarm, and compression keeps the imagery pure. At all times, Deadly Manor looks like film. A few scratches appear, hardly detrimental.

The real key are black levels, rendered here with precision. Dense and tight, shadowy corners hide the proper level of information, without sacrificing detail. Crush is only noted where absolutely intended, giving Deadly Manor dimension in the extreme.

Likewise, color saturates mildly, enough to draw out heavy primaries (and a neon-heavy Godzilla shirt worn by a main character), and leaving the rest to an attractive, controlled palette. Nothing in Deadly Manor looks gaudy or unnatural. Rather, accurate and appealing.

Audio

Dialog contends with the empty mansion interior. The DTS-HD mix can only do so much to appease such hollow material. Treble strains thanks to this location, certainly sounding of the minimal budget.

Minimal scoring fares better – slightly so – with passable range and clarity. Expect no miracles, just Deadly Manor as it always was.

Extras

Credit the dual critic crew – Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan – for finding a unique, appreciative way to approach Deadly Manor in their commentary track. It’s great, and offers a unique perspective.

Interviews follow. Jennifer Delora comes first, speaking for nearly 33-minutes about her role and career. Producer Brian Smedley-Aston comes next, answering questions for seven minutes. A mid-’90s clip from a Jose Larraz interview fills in some gaps. Promotional material follows.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Deadly Manor
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

The only thing deadly in Deadly Manor is the potential for death by boredom, set in place by this tired slasher with little motivating spark.

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