Tempers are fraying at Talbot Manor, Bridgnorth, former residence of famed stage magician the Great Mascalini, his home rented out by the trustees for a film shoot which sees the return of Oliver Lawrence to the horror genre, with director Derrick Francis questioning his career choices as he desperately tries to get the last pickup shots in the can a day past the time the lease specified they must vacate the premises.
Patience running out and body double Owen hoping alcohol will serve as a replacement for good spirits while producer Peter Castle tries to arrange a late publicity visit, as the full moon rises behind a veil of cloud the cast and crew of vampire horror Crimson Manor have more to contend with than the ego of a surly and inebriated leading man as their numbers dwindle, picked off by an intruder on the closed set.
Shot in Shropshire under the title Scream of the Wolf and now released as Wolf Manor, director Dominic Brunt seems unsure whether he is making a horror about surviving a monstrous siege or a comedy about the behind-the-scenes challenges of low-budget filmmaking, the aspect most effectively conveyed the sheer tedium of the enterprise, Talbot Manor serving as location and production facility for Crimson Manor with bedrooms doubling as dressing rooms and no place to escape from each other or the thing lurking outside.
The result technically superior to Hammer House of Horror’s Children of the Full Moon but lacking any urgency or atmosphere, the lethargic editing drains what little energy there is in the performances; Oliver (James Fleet) comments backstory should be kept “brief and vague,” but with little personality these exasperated characters exist in a vacuum, bickering and bitching before becoming snacks for the beast which is surprisingly open in its attacks, its victims apparently frozen in fright by its mere presence.
Where Wolf Manor does excel, however, is in that wild animal and its associated leavings, Morgan Rees-Davies clad in full costume and prosthetics with severed limbs, decapitated heads and discarded organs strewn about the well-maintained lawn where it spends most of its time skulking and observing the film crew, presumably in disbelief that they are so willing to stand around and allow themselves to be slaughtered.
Unable to summon help with no landline or mobile reception – except for all the calls made by mercenary producer Peter (Stephen Mapes) earlier – the affectations of a magical dream sequence interlude or the extended post-credit epilogue which belatedly introduces Mascalini (Shaune Harrison) attempt to expand the scope but feel as incongruous as the opening “X” certificate granted by the British Board of Film Censors, a body which has not existed since 1984.
Wolf Manor will be available on digital download from Monday 9th January