That movie with the animated corpse
March 17, 2005 1:51 PM   Subscribe

More "please identify this movie for me:" I'm trying to track down a horror movie featuring a taxidermied old lady and a maze.

I watched this movie as a kid, it scared the crap out of me, and I'd like to see it again (and probably laugh at how bad/not-scary it seems now).

My recollection is that it's from the 60s-70s, and based on what I remember of the style, it seems likely that it's European horror. I must have seen it on TV in the early 80s, because there's no way my mom would have taken me to see something like that. It's definitely in color.

The plot, to the best of my recollection, involves a somewhat fragile young woman who stays overnight with her more stable, confident friend. The friend has to go away for some reason, leaving Fragile Heroine alone with the dead body of an old woman with dyed red hair, who wears a long white nightgown. Fragile is freaked out about this, but the friend is cavalier, and has some explanation why a dead old lady is a perfectly normal thing to have around (possibly something along the lines of how they're having a funeral tomorrow and doing the laying-out thing, which is maybe why I seem to remember that the body has been preserved/taxidermied). There is the definite implication that Fragile is a little off, and everything that transpires next is all in her head.

Anyway, of course, Fragile starts seeing the body in different places than the bed it's supposed to be lying on - one particular scene involves the body sitting in a rocking chair - and she flips out, and somehow ends up in a large, brightly-colored indoor maze, thinking that the scary moving corpse is in there with her. The final scene involves paramedics chopping through the walls of the maze with an axe to get to her, where she's died of fright or totally lost her mind or some other grim fate.

That's all I remember. I should note that the movie I'm remembering is neither Mario Bava's "Black Sabbath," which features a young woman being haunted by a possibly-imaginary vengeful dead old woman, or "The Shining," which features, of course, a maze and an entirely different kind of scary old lady.

This is going to drive me crazier than a Fragile Heroine with a walking corpse, so any clues you might be able to offer are much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by hilatron to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
Any idea about actors? Hammer did some nice psychological horror films that are obscured by the larger cult following of their Dracula flicks...
posted by Neosamurai85 at 9:55 PM on March 17, 2005

Well you've got me thinking of all the taxidermy-related horror stories I know (Psycho, Roald Dahl's story, various Ed Gein-inspired films), and none seem to be it.... (And I've also discovered a couple online that seem interesting but are also not it).

Can you remember any more about this film? Was the corpse a zombie? Someone with a rare disease? Or just a corpse that others were using to try to drive her mad?
posted by Tuwa at 2:25 AM on March 18, 2005

I spent an hour and a half between google and the power search of imdb and couldn't find anything that remotely resembled your description. On imdb, I brought up titles of every movie with corpse in the plot description (not as many as one may think) as well as every movie with maze, not just the horror movies either. The various forms of taxiderm also.

posted by mischief at 7:24 AM on March 18, 2005

This is probably way off, but it isn't Suspiria is it?

It's got the multi-colored maze (lots of colored lighting, razor wire room, multiple rooms), it's got the creepy old woman that pops up occasionally (the owner of the ballet school / coven).

I seem to remember a shot of the old woman, wearing her nightgown and lit from behid with a bright red light, thus the dyed red hair. Either way, there are a few matches with this movie and the movie you described. However, it's probably not the one you're looking for.
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 7:47 AM on March 18, 2005

Response by poster: Neosamurai, no clue about actors, although part of the reason I think it might be Euro-horror is that I remember the two female leads as being like those tall and beautiful and elegant-boned creatures that are always getting terrorized in giallos. I hadn't thought of checking out Hammer, though - I got stuck on their Poe period. Thanks for the idea.

Tuwa, no real idea about the reason for the body being there. It seems like it's supposed to be there, and supposed to be dead, though - I think I remember the other woman explaining what it's doing there with a sort of impatient attitude towards Fragile, like "quit being such a baby! This is all perfectly normal!"

Mischief, thanks for your diligence - how disheartening that nothing came up! I hope I'm not misremembering some major plot point that makes these searches useless.

PantsofSCIENCE, I don't think it's Suspiria, but I haven't seen it in ages so it's worth checking out. If it is that, I really did alter the plot quite a bit in my memory. In my recollection of this whatever-the-hell-it-is movie, most of the story takes place with the young woman alone, just seeing the corpse and being freaked out. No dance school, no love interest, no maggots, no fall into a stained glass sculpture, none of the big markers from Suspiria. And like I said, there's a real, acknowledged dead old woman lying around throughout, which I don't think comes into play in Suspiria until the very end, if at all. (Still a little fuzzy on the, er, logic of a lot of Argento's movies, there.)

But a rewatching is probably in order - I was so little when I watched this, who knows how much I caught and understood? Too bad I have a friend visiting this weekend who doesn't like horror movies (what? There are other sections of the video store?), so further research'll have to wait until next week. Thanks for the help, everyone!
posted by hilatron at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2005

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