The Nesting (1981)
Just stop and imagine how many bizarre movies you’re likely to come across if you’ve included seeing every John Carradine appearance on your personal bucket list.
I mean everything. Not just the John Ford titles but also those from Schlock Meisters Al Adamson, Jerry Warren and this ghastly supernatural tale from director Armand Weston as well. Joining John this time out is Gloria Grahame who herself had polar opposites on her list of acting credits ranging from an Oscar for The Bad and the Beautiful back in 1952 to guilty pleasures like Blood and Lace years later. Sadly this was to be Gloria’s final film as she would pass away in October of ’81.
The film itself begins when an author played by Robin Groves who suffers from agoraphobia decides to get out of the Big Apple and take up a rental in the countryside. Her journey to visit a real estate agent takes her into the path of an abandoned Victorian Mansion that seems as if it’s appeared right from the pages of her latest novel. A quick bit of research tells me it’s actually a building called The Armour-Stiner House in Irvington, New York. And who is it you ask that owns that forgotten run down building surely to have a demon in it’s past or dare I say it’s closet? Paging John Carradine.
In what I was worried amounted to a ninety second cameo, John utters a few lines then takes one look at the young lady who wants to rent the old place and suffers a debilitating stroke. End of John? Thankfully no as we’ll see him and his eyebrows chewing the scenery in a major unveiling later on in the film. Miss Groves soon begins the tedious job of getting the old place in shape and takes note of the many old items within including an antique typewriter, a set of silver candle sticks and a host of old ballroom dresses in the loft where she’s been lured by the sounds of a big band recording. Images of a brothel begin to flood her dreams that are often hosted by Miss Grahame as the Madam and all sorts of sexual situations.
Unfortunately for Groves, aside from John’s grandson and possible love interest, Michael David Lally, most everyone she’ll come in contact with are certifiable though it’s she that’s supposed to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. There’s the gruff handyman who mistakes the offer of a coffee and sandwich as an opportunity for a sexual interlude and a slovenly farmer in the area who wants nothing more than to terrorize and place Miss Groves on the end of a pitch fork. Neither opportunity works out to well for the men thanks to the spirits caught up in the former brothel/mansion. I should add that both scenes lead to an effective thrill.
There’s a secret in the past that will need to be unlocked and this is where a bedridden John and his jumpy eyebrows will get there chance to share the history behind the hauntings and just who those spirits might belong too.
As the trailer points out, “The Nesting. It’s the terror that hides inside your mind.” Well I’m thankful for that explanation. Now if we could just contain a nesting in the sequel that never came to be. Kind of like when William Castle showed us all what a Tingler actually looked like.
Truthfully, this is a pretty decent thriller of it’s type. It’s influenced by both the haunted mansion tales of the past and the more recent slasher films that had seen the quotient of bloody deaths littering the screen multiply with the advent of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. One look at the movie’s trailer and you can see that the advertising campaign is trying to capitalize on those scenes included within The Nesting to bring in the genre fans and their dollars.
I’m not sure how this title has evaded me all these years considering it had Carradine in it. An actor I’ve know since childhood thanks to my discovering the Universal Monster rally’s on the late shows and his popping up in so many movies I’d see growing up from Duke westerns to Tyrone Power adventures and even classic comedies like The Court Jester. So while Carradine movies are not exactly on my bucket list, it sure seems that way at times.
Worth a look if you feel the need and thanks to a blu ray release from Blue Underground I can check this one off on both John and Gloria’s list of titles.