Deadly Manor ★★½

Not the banger you'd hope from the guy who gave us SYMPTOMS, VAMPYRES, and EDGE OF THE AXE, but for his final outing Jose Larraz lengthens the connective tissue to the thematic interests of his past, which had been absent to an extent during his "hackwork" from the 1980s.

Like EDGE OF THE AXE, it is setup as another rural American slasher for a youngish audience expecting a body count. It takes a regal turn toward the psycho thriller, as if the standard '80s horror narrative for a vacationing, youthful ensemble gets twisted by the "bougie" pathologies of the vengeful rich and beautiful. It isn't as excitable nor as impactful as I had hoped for a slasher/psycho-holic like myself, but it's in the upper echelon of mediocrity. However, I got my aesthetic kicks and favorite murder tropes, I enjoyed the matter-of-fact acting and varied score, and the return to more Larrazian content was satisfying.

Fellow Larraz enthusiasts, especially those who hounded the Blood Hunger boxset, will enjoy the recurrence of his more distinctive characteristics, like the remote and wooded locale, photography as obsession, beauty and voyeurism, enthused sexuality, and a story motif that harkens back to the pre-slasher type of "killer", which was often used to explore the dynamic of power in love and murder (it's a plot spoiler, so I won't be more specific). Those who like a discernible "Latin" quality—based on tenuous connections I notice in Italian and Spanish genre films—in their slashy entertainment might want to pair this in a double bill with the video nasty MADHOUSE.