Saturday, 10 November 2012

Gough Kicks Off

Eight years on from ‘Black Zoo’, Michael Gough was still played the cold eyed martinet, the ruthless ruler of all he surveys. In ‘The Velvet House’ (aka ‘The Corpse’, aka ‘Crucible Of Horror’) his kingdom is a domestic house, and his subjects his abused family.
It’s an odd set up. Gough prowls the house looking for things to kick off about and, when he’s not trying to start a fight, is seen strenuously washing his hands as if to absolve himself of his guilt. He has moulded his son into a mini version of himself and the boy puts on his headphones and turns the music up to full volume everytime he can hear an argument. Gough has dangerously contrary emotions towards his rebellious  teenage daughter: when she gets off her bike he secretly squeezes the saddle; when she gets out of line, he beats her savagely with a riding crop.
The wife / mother (played by the eternally downtrodden Yvonne Mitchell) locks herself away from everything most days, obsessively painting expressionist portraits of her feared husband. After the horse whipping, however, she turns wearily to her daughter and says ‘let’s kill him’ - so they do. Or at least they think they do…
A minor but intriguing little psycho drama, ‘The Velvet House’ is, ultimately, compromised by a lack of narrative clarity but it’s a thoughtful little film with an implacably nasty but very matter of fact performance from Gough, who plays the control freak father as a kind of passive-psychotic. Nobody does bastard like Gough, and he’s on top form here - alive, dead or reanimated making the lives of those around him a hell.
It's not on DVD (I think - cue comments and links to DVD copies), hence the slightly scabby screenshots. I’d like to see a cleaned up version, or at least one where you can still see what’s going on when it gets dark.

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