Blind leading the blind: Mansion of the Doomed (1976) – review

101 Films dips into the Full Moon Features catalogue of exploitation cinema with the gory cult classic, Mansion of the Doomed – available on Blu-ray from May 6th, appropriately under their Black Label.

Produced by prolific filmmaker Charles Band, who is comparable to Roger Corman in terms of his output and style, Mansion of the Doomed follows mad scientist, Dr. Leonard Chaney (Richard Basehart) and his numerous failed attempts to restore his daughter’s eyesight. The surgeon’s unwilling and blinded volunteers are stashed away in the basement, left in a state of permanent darkness that slowly erodes their sanity.

This obscure horror piece is devoid of any levity, and any attempts at humour are purely unintentional. However, as the deadly serious narrative unfolds, one can’t help but be amused by the mindset and actions of our central figure who’s the very definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. To make matters worse, our lead often convinces himself why a certain pair of eyes may work more than another, the reasons of which are philosophical, rather than grounded in medical science.

Chaney is perhaps an allusion to Lon Chaney Jr., and while I don’t recall him ever playing a ‘mad scientist, there are a few similarities between this film and Dead Man’s Eyes from 1945 of the Inner Sanctum series. Overall, the premise of Mansion of the Doomed draws a lot of inspiration from the countless hair-brained ideas showcased in horror cinema from the 40s, and to the film’s credit, that style is adapted well to fit the excessive and very graphic nature of 70s exploitation cinema. It certainly does not fall short of fan expectations.

Richard Basehart is fully invested in the drama as the “good doctor” – an actor on his way down after a distinguished career in the Hollywood scene. He has a rather peculiar manner of speaking, which can easily be confused for a European accent, but I suspect this may simply be attributed to alcoholism, and Chaney does indeed enjoy a glass or two throughout the film. Drinking or not, Mansion of the Doomed would have undoubtedly lacked character without the aging actor’s presence, and he gets a lot of help from a young Lance Henriksen in a supporting role as a beacon of hope for our trapped victims.


  • The Charles Band Empire – A new documentary on the career of horror legend Charles Band.
  • Cutting Teeth – Editor Harry Keramidas on ‘Mansion of the Doomed’.
  • Limited edition booklet: Includes ‘On Mansion of the Doomed’ by filmmaker and critic Chris Alexander and ‘The Eye is blind if the mind is absent: The legacy of ocular violence & video nasties within Mansion of the Doomed’ by writer Andy Marshall-Roberts.

Despite “Empire” being part of its title, the documentary on Charles Band mainly focuses on the start of his career and movies made under his first production company, prior to the formation of Empire International Pictures. Running for a little over 30 minutes, Band takes viewers through his early life growing up on film sets, a short-lived acting career, and how exploitation sets operated back in the 1970s. Interviews with the producer are rotated with those from director/writer Christopher Alexander who shows Mansion of the Doomed a lot of love.

In a separate featurette, editor Harry Keramidas proves to be a strong interview subject thanks to his impressive memory. Despite many decades passing since the release of Mansion of the Doomed, Keramidas easily recalls working with Band, and shares some amusing anecdotes about his time spent as an editor for his productions. – by Hannah Lynch


I think it’s safe to assume this 1080p presentation in 1.85:1 was sourced from Mansion of the Doomed’s debut Blu-ray release from Full Moon in 2021, which is practically flawless and looks just as you’d expect for a film of this nature and calibre. Colour is somewhat muted, appropriately except for red. Texture and sharpness allow for much detail which is exemplified by how easily you can count the wrinkles on our lead actor’s face. Sound comes in a basic 2.0 Mono track which offers loud dialogue that isn’t at any point drowned out.

Mansion of the Doomed might just be a tad undersold by its cover art, which is a rare sight (no pun intended.) If you have an aversion to any form eye trauma, you may want to steer clear, but if you want some mindless horror with front-row seats on the edge of madness, I’m sure this will fit the bill.

(1976, director: Michael Pataki)


direct blu-ray screen captures


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