Although it suffers from the rudimentary execution that doomed most ’70s TV movies to oblivion after their initial broadcasts, Death at Love House has such a kicky story that some enterprising soul could probably put together a worthwhile remake. Plus, the movie stars a pair of comfortingly familiar actors. Kate Jackson and Robert Wagner, respectively of Charlie’s Angels and Hart to Hart fame, play authors who take up occupancy in a gloomy Hollywood mansion while researching a book about long-dead ’30s actress Lorna Love, the mansion’s onetime owner. Joel (Wagner) is the son of Lorna’s lover, so when paranormal events suggest that Lorna’s spirit is roaming the grounds of the mansion, Joel begins to wonder if he’s being courted by a ghost. As happens in this sort of story, Joel starts to reciprocate the attraction by becoming obsessed with a giant portrait of Lorna. He also fantasizes about her in dream sequences featuring beautiful ’60s/’70s starlet Marianna Hill as the glamorous Lorna. This is all enjoyably undemanding stuff, right down to the obligatory subplot involving a creepy old caretaker (Sylvia Sidney) who serves the otherworldly whims of her dearly departed mistress. The idea of blending old-Hollywood glamour with the ’70s supernatural fad was novel, whether the credit goes to writer James Barnett or producer Hal Sitowitz, but a limp screenplay and perfunctory acting prevent the piece from realizing its potential. So, even though Jackson summons a smidgen more gravitas than the ever-wooden Wagner (and even though Hill is so sexy it’s easy to believe she can beguile from beyond the grave), it’s only a matter of time before Death at Love House tumbles into bad-movie chaos during the conclusion. Still, there are worse ways to spend 74 minutes (though not many) and the basic concept is memorable.
Death at Love House: FUNKY