The House in Marsh Road

The House in Marsh Road, known on American television as Invisible Creature, is a 1960 British horror suspense film produced by Maurice J. Wilson, directed by Montgomery Tully and starring Tony Wright, Patricia Dainton and Sandra Dorne.[1] The plot centres on a benevolent poltergeist in a country home who protects a woman from her homicidal husband. It may be one of the first films to use the word 'poltergeist' in reference to a spirit or ghost. The film was never released to theatres in the US, and instead went straight to television.

The House in Marsh Road
"The House in Marsh Road" (1960).jpg
Original lobby card
Directed byMontgomery Tully
Produced byMaurice J. Wilson
Screenplay byMaurice J. Wilson
Laurence Meynell (novel)
StarringTony Wright
Patricia Dainton
Sandra Dorne
Music byJohn Veale
CinematographyJames Harvey
Edited byJim Connock
Production
company
Distributed byGrand National Pictures (UK)
Release date
November 1960 (UK)
Running time
70 minutes
LanguageEnglish

The screenplay, also by Wilson, is based on the 1955 novel The House in Marsh Road by Laurence Meynell.[2]

PlotEdit

Jean Linton (Dainton) has inherited £1000 and a country house, Four Winds, from her late aunt. She and her husband David (Wright), an alcoholic would-be novelist, move there, and are told by housekeeper Mrs. O'Brien (Anita Sharp-Bolster) that the home is already inhabited - by a poltergeist she has named 'Patrick', after her late husband. Patrick makes his presence known to Jean by moving furniture about, breaking mirrors, etc.

Unhappy living in the country, David meets an estate agent at the local pub, who offers him £6000 for the house and land. David, however, can do nothing as they are in Jean's name and he is unable to convince her to sell. He hires local sexpot Valerie Stockley (Dorne) - she calls herself 'Mrs.' but her true marital status is questionable - as his typist and they begin an affair. Valerie tells David that once her divorce comes through, she'll be free to marry him, as he has proposed. But when she learns that Jean controls the property and the money, she angrily suggests that David kill Jean so that he can inherit.

Patrick becomes quite protective of Jean after she discovers the affair. David makes attempts on Jean's life - trying to push her down the lift shaft in the house, dissolving an overdose of sleeping pills in her glass of hot milk - but each time, Patrick intervenes. He slams shut the lift gate before Jean can fall and causes a loud alarm to ring just as Jean is about to drink the doctored milk, which makes her realise that there is something wrong with it. Jean consults a solicitor in London about a divorce, but he tells her that her argument that a poltergeist is the only thing preventing David from murdering her 'won't hold water' in court.

With Jean in London, David is free to have Valerie spend the night with him. Patrick takes the opportunity to punish them. As they're lying in bed, Patrick locks them in the bedroom and sets Four Winds aflame. When Jean returns later that night, having been driven home by her close friend and confidant Richard Foster (Derek Aylward), she learns that both David and Valerie have perished in the fire, trapped behind the bedroom's barred windows.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

The film was produced at Merton Park Studios in the UK.[3]

The House in Marsh Road was granted an A-certificate by the British Board of Film Censors on 26 July 1960. The A-cert meant that the film was considered to be 'more suitable for adults'.[4][5]

DistributionEdit

Theatrical distribution in the UK of The House in Marsh Road was by Grand National Pictures.[6]

The film was never distributed theatrically in the US. But under the title Invisible Creature, it was released to television in 1964 as part of American International Television's Amazing '65 syndication package, an 'eclectic assortment of 65 genre features' sold to individual TV stations around the US. As such, the movie was 'one of the earliest AITV releases', and was given an on-screen copyright date of 1964 and listed as an Alta Vista Production 'with UK production' by Merton Park Studios.[3] Invisible Creature was broadcast, for example, in the 1960s on WIIC-TV in Pittsburgh on the 'monster movie' programme Chiller Theater on 23 July 1966 and 2 August 1969.[7][8] It was also shown on WFLD-TV in Chicago numerous times during the 1970s: on Screaming Yellow Theater on 27 October 1972 and 2 March 1973; on WFLD Chiller Theater on 29 June 1975, 4 April 1976 and 15 August 1976; and on Monstrous Movie on 16 April 1977.[9][10][11]

More recently, the film was shown as The House in Marsh Road, its British title, on Talking Pictures TV in the UK on 11 October 2019.[12]

The House in Marsh Road was teamed with The Monkey's Paw (1948) for video distribution in the UK by Video Renown Productions Ltd. The video was given a PG rating on 8 May 2013 under the 1985 ratings guidelines issued for videos by the British Board of Film Classification, which defines PG as 'Parental Guidance - general viewing but some scenes may be unsuitable for young children'.[13][14][5]

Critical receptionEdit

British film critic Phil Hardy is unimpressed by The House in Marsh Road, calling it 'a rather tame supernatural thriller' and describing Tully as 'a veteran of medium- and low-budget British programme fillers'. He notes, however, that instead of the people who usually do so in horror films, it is Patrick the poltereist who 'appears to be responsible for the house catching fire during a storm, trapping the adulterous couple in the flames'.[15]

American academic critic Rob Craig views the film in a more positive light. He calls it 'a cracking good drama with surprisingly adult themes', such as 'infidelity, alcoholism, paranoia and conspiracy'. And while it is 'essentially an old-fashioned ghost story', Craig writes that The House in Marsh Road 'comes to life due to an insightful screenplay, excellent characterizations and an abundance of atmosphere'. He also notes that the movie is perhaps one of the first to use the much-used-in-horror-films word 'poltergeist'.[3]

Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane, also British critics, point out that the four-way relationship of Jean, Richard, David and Valerie is somewhat unusual for its time in that it shows them living 'at some remove from the safety of quotidian middle-class mores'. The film offers 'an unusually frank picture of a grim marriage (...) with a suggestion of adultery', they write, also noting that for 'a haunted house mystery', it is one 'with (not rare in British Bs) a downbeat ending'.[16]

Wheeler W. Dixon, an American academic critic, pays special attention to the 'grim conclusion' of The House in Marsh Road. In line with Chibnall and McFarlane, he writes that 'in the stern moral universe the film inhabits, [David and Valerie's] violent deaths are seen as entirely deserved. Jean, it is implied, will move on through life with her new love, Richard'.[17]

A reviewer at Britmovie writes that 'this entertaining and atmospheric low-budget feature rises above the standard expected from the much-maligned b-movie.'[18]

Websites that solicit voluntary viewer 'votes' to rate films provide roughly similar results for The House in Marsh Road. IMDB gives the film 6 of 10 points based on 302 votes. Letterboxd awards it 3 of 5 points from 122 votes. Rotten Tomatoes gives it an average viewer rating of 2.9 of a possible 5 points based on 15 votes. And Rate Your Music, based on a single vote from February 2011, rates the film at 2.5 of 5 points and concludes that it was the 819th most popular film of 1960.[19][20][21][22]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "BFI | Film & TV Database | The HOUSE IN MARSH ROAD (1960)". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on 14 January 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  2. ^ "The House In Marsh Road/Monkey's Paw [DVD]: Amazon.co.uk: Patricia Dainton, Tony Wright, Sandra Dorne, Milton Rosmer, Megs Jenkins, Michael Martin Harvey, Montgomery Tully, Norman Lee: DVD & Blu-ray". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c Craig, Rob (2019). American International Pictures: A Complete Filmography. Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. Inc. pp. 209–210. ISBN 9781476666310.
  4. ^ "The House in Marsh Road (1960)". BBFC. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b "History of the age rating symbols". BBFC. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  6. ^ "Grand National Pictures". British Film Institute. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  7. ^ "The Invisible Creature". Chiller Theater Memories. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  8. ^ "The Invisible Creature". Chiller Theater Memories. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  9. ^ "The Invisible Creature". EP Guides. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  10. ^ "The Invisible Creature". EP Guides. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  11. ^ "The Invisible Creature". EP Guides. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  12. ^ "The House in Marsh Road". TV24. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  13. ^ "The Monkey's Paw/The House in Marsh Road". BBFC. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  14. ^ "The House in Marsh Road (1960)". BBFC. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  15. ^ Hardy, ed., Phil (1986). The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies. NY: Harper & Row. p. 131. ISBN 0060550503.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Chibnall, Steve; McFarlane, Brian (2009). The British 'B' Films. NY: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 146, 243, 252. ISBN 9781844573196.
  17. ^ Dixon, Wheeler W. (2005). Film Noir and the Cinema of Paranoia. Edinburgh Scotland: Edinburgh University Press. p. 64. ISBN 9780748623990.
  18. ^ "The House in Marsh Road 1960 | Britmovie | Home of British Films". Britmovie. Retrieved 20 May 2014.
  19. ^ "The House in Marsh Road". IMDB. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  20. ^ "The House in Marsh Road". Letterboxd. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  21. ^ "The House in Marsh Road". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  22. ^ "The House in Marsh Road". Rate Your Music. Retrieved 11 November 2019.

External linksEdit