We watched this movie on the strength of its poster, which is awesome. Rhias goes into more detail on her blog, but the short version is that the poster (painted by Drew Struzan) does a really good job of setting up the movie and making you want to see it. Well, it made us want to see it, anyway.
The movie itself turns out to be a Samuel Arkoff production, which means it's made on the cheap but has some interesting touches. It also has Jessica Harper, who I recognize mostly from Shock Treatment, although if I'm around film snobs I claim I know her from Suspiria. She's also in My Favorite Year, which I actually like better than either of those two movies.
Anyway, the plot involves a house that had something horrible happen to it in 1934, but you can't really tell what.
At the beginning of the movie, there's a huge shootout in 1934, and then later on in 1939 it looks like the residents of the house were murdered by creepy unexplainable guys. And then the same thing happens to the modern-day people , which lets Jessica Harper run around screaming. I think the modern-day people are in the '40s, because they have big cars and sit around reading LIFE magazine while listening to big band music, but it's a little confusing to have a movie with two distinct time periods that are right next to each other like that. I'm not sure there's any reason it wasn't just set in the modern day (1979), unless the whole reason the movie was made was because they got some vintage cars they could use.
Anyway, there's a scene where the villains are shockingly revealed and explain their plan to each other, and it dosn't really make a great deal of sense even then.
Basically, I knew I was in for a good time when the movie started with this:
That's right: it's a horror movie on videotape from the mid-80s. The original video transfer screwed up the aspect ratio, but that just meant that I was able to watch it using all of the widescreen television and it worked out pretty close to correct. Sweet!