Halloween Horrors 50 for 31: It Happened at Nightmare Inn

October 31, 2011 at 9:59 pm 2 comments

There is nothing like a crappy ending to completely ruin my enthusiasm for a movie. For the most part, I really liked It Happened at Nightmare Inn. That is surprising considering its another Spanish horror movie from 1973. How many of these movies did they make back then? Just when I think I have seen every Spanish horror movie ever made, I run across another on. But this one was far better than most of the ones I’ve seen. That is, all the way until the end.

Two sisters, Marta and Veronica run a small inn in a tiny Spanish village that attracts tourists from all over Europe.  Laura shows up at the inn looking for her sister. The two sister insist that she left without a word as to where she is going. They are very religious, traditional, and of high moral fiber. So much so that they murdered Laura’s sister. Also a young Dutch girl named Helen comes to town and uses her sexiness to turn the heads of every guy in the village. You would think the sisters would plot out her death but in an interesting twist, it was something of an accident. Helen comes home drunk and looking for love. So she puts the moves on Marta who tells her to leave the house. Helen continues her pursuit and gets a knife to the gut. Now that two people who stayed at the inn have disappeared, Laura get suspicious that something is going on. So Laura teams up with Eduardo, the last person to see Helen and Laura’s sister alive. Laura decisions to leave the inn when the sisters are rude to her for asking too many questions. While Laura is leaving a young girl and her baby come to say in the inn. Laura insists that she tell them if anything weird happens or they decide to leave. An odd request for a complete stranger to make but the mother agrees. Tiny villages like this apparently don’t have police so the only authority in town is the mayor. I realize that I know nothing about rural Europe but in a tourist town like this, you would think there would at least be a sheriff. Laura tells the Mayor she is suspicious of the sisters and their inn. The Mayor tells her not to worry about it. So Laura tells him to never mind. Makes sense. It’s not like he is the only authority figure with arrest powers in town. This is the part of the movie where Laura really begins to puzzle me. She doesn’t really have any kind of plan. She goes off all on her own and pokes around the sisters inn looking for evidence. The Mayor stated he could have some state police come into town from Madrid to investigate if she thought the sisters were up to no good. Well, Laura knows they are up to no good after the mother and her child disappear. Mom tells a shop keeper that she is a single mom and doesn’t know the father of the child. Well, Shop Keep tells the sisters about this and they aren’t happy. So while Mom is out talking with Laura the sisters decide they are going to take the baby from her. Mom comes back to the inn and doesn’t really want to give up her child so she gets a cleaver to the back. At this point I’m thinking that these bodies are really piling up.The inn is pretty small and dead bodies tend to smell. So know Laura knows the sisters are up to no good but instead of alerting authorities she convinces Eduardo that they should stay at the inn as a couple so she can poke around some more. The sisters are suspicious and who wouldn’t be.  Laura left in a huff and has now returned to the inn only days later while a husband who looks a lot like the village playboy. The sister figure this out quickly and kill Eduardo with an axe. Laura finds the bodies of the missing girls brewing in the homemade wine vats just as she gets caught by the sisters. While all this is happening the villagers are getting together to storm the inn. The Mayors wife passed out when she found an eyeball in her wine while at the inn and the Mayor gathers a mob to deal with this sisters. So it’s a race against time. Will the sisters kill Laura before the mob arrives? We never find out. Laura makes her way to an open window. The mob is there. They see the sister pointing sharp objects at Laura. The End. What kind of ending is that? Why the cliffhanger ending? Did they plan on making a sequel? The sisters know they are pretty much screwed when they see the mob. But they have enough reason to kill Laura anyway. But we never find out if they end up killing her. The movie just ends.

The ending seems kind of rushed and it should. The US version cuts about an hour from the original film.I looked up the cut material and they probably did the right thing from a storytelling stand point. A lot of the cut material involves a subplot where one of the sisters is having sex with the houseboy who helps out around the inn. There is a lot of gore and nudity cut as well. I thought there was a lack of nudity for a Spanish horror film. From what I read, I would have been bored with that extra material. There really are only four kills in the movie and one that takes place before the movie. I think they spared us a lot of talking and pointless subplots.

Even though the ending was probably the most disappointing thing in this movie, upon further inspection, Laura is a pretty useless main character. She really didn’t have to be in this movie. The mob would have caught on to what the sisters were doing without her ever being in the movie. The sisters messed up by sticking the bodies in vats of wine and the Mayor’s wife found an eyeball. As an investigator, she is more useless than the Scooby gang.  At least at the end of those cartoons the villain would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those nosy kids. In this case, they wouldn’t have gotten away with it no matter what Laura did. When she pokes around the house, she doesn’t find anything until the very end of the movie. She warns the Mayor but he doesn’t take her seriously. Mostly she just asks people if they saw her sister and takes pictures at the local cathedral.  Laura doesn’t need to be here and even in the uncut version doesn’t really do anything of consequence.

I thought the film made really good use of visuals to tell the story. It’s kind of hard to explain what I mean by that without using pictures or video. But they really do make good use of shots, framing, and visuals to move the story forward or to communication something without dialogue. That’s a really good idea in a foreign film. It takes away a lot of the sting from the dubbing. In this movie, its about standard but you can tell a lot gets lost in the performance. I also liked the premise of the movie. It’s not exactly new. Two religious sisters murder people who don’t fit their definition of morality. I think this is an idea they could remake now days and probably do a better job. I guess its similar to something like Red State or Boondock Saints. But a remake of this movie, I think, could really work.

I think general audiences might have a problem with this movie just because they might not like the dubbing. I think anyone who is willing to give the movie a chance, they could really get some enjoyment out of this movie. It’s not great but it’s not bad either. I will probably remember the premise before I remember anything that actually happened in the movie. Still, I think it’s worth watching.


Entry filed under: Horror. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  November 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I am watching this film right now and was wondering if the version you saw explained why Martha was all bloody after watching the group of kids skinny-dipping…one minute she was in the weeds watching & the next she was running home all bloody with her blouse open…just curious….thank you.

    • 2. mrwednesdaynight  |  November 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      I think they may have been something cut in the US version and it is confusing. If I recall, she is having sex with the house boy who is in that skinny dipping scene. They go back to his place and the sex gets pretty rough, thats why she is bloody. He scratched her while having sex and she needs to hide it from her sister. I could be wrong. Like I said, this was all cut out of the US version so for all I know she may have killed him. I do know it had something to do with that subplot


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