This listing is for Playroom VHS Video.
Actors: Lisa Aliff, Aron Eisenberg, Christopher McDonald, James Purcell, Jamie Rose
Directors: Manny Coto
Writers: Jackie Earle Haley, Keaton Jones
Producers: Djordje Zecevic, Jason Clark, Luigi Cingolani, Paul Zecevic, Steven Gilder
Format: Color, EP, NTSC
Rated: R - Restricted
Number of tapes: 1
Studio: Republic Pictures
VHS Release Date: April 15, 1997
Run Time: 90 minutes
Archaeologist Chris McDonald was just a boy, when his father's entire team was savagely murdered during the excavation of Prince Elok's castle in Yugoslavia. Local worker Vincent Schiavelli was convicted of the crime, though he always blamed "the kid." Which kid would that have been? Chris, himself? Or Chris's "imaginary" playmate in the castle? Or has the man simply been lying all these years?
Chris intends to find out. He finds one of his father's lost maps of Elok's castle, and believes it will lead him to the hidden crypt containing the boy prince's never-found body. Somehow, he believes he can lay his father's murder to rest, if only he can find that crypt. His publisher girlfriend Lisa Aliff, and photographer James Purcell and his girlfriend Jamie Rose, accompany him to the site - if it's found, it will be world news, and they want to be in on the bandwagon.
But the longer Chris works on the site, the scarier things become for his friends. He's progressively more obsessive, and intense. He talks to himself - or would that to be to his old imaginary childhood friend, "Daniel," who Chris seems more and more to think might have had something to do with his father's murder? Even Chris is remembering trauma-suppressed memories of torturing small animals to death with "Daniel." While Aliff and the others try to think of a way to escape without setting the increasingly unstable Chris over the edge, Schiavelli escapes from the lunatic asylum and makes his way to Elok's castle for a little personal payback of his own...
Along with Vincent Price's The Pit and the Pendulum, this is the best man-going-mad-in-the-castle movie you could ever hope to find. It's slow but it's steady, and the ever-increasing build to bloody massacre has a terrific payoff, with so many brilliant twists and turns along the way it'll make your head spin - every time you think you've finally figured out what's going on, it'll pull the rug right out from under you. It looks and performs like an especially good episode of Tales from the Crypt, if Alfred Hitchcock had ever directed one. McDonald is scary as hell, Schiavelli is marvellous in his usual I'm-not-as-nuts-as-I-look part, Aron Eisenberg does a great creepy-little-kid cameo as "Daniel," and the rest of the cast assay their victim-on-the-run roles with convincing terror. The production itself is gorgeous, with location shooting, excellent cinematography, and a local-color soundtrack. There are animatronics involved, which are sometimes extremely convincing and other times less so, and you might not want to question the film's logic too closely, but it's a really impressive rollercoaster ride overall.
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