The Mad Room

If you think your family is dysfunctional, let Ellen Hardy offer some perspective: Did your brother and sister kill your parents? Were they sent to a mental institution over 10 years ago and recently released into your care? Have they started killing again?

The Mad Room, a 1969 remake of Ladies in Retirement, stars Stella Stevens as Ellen Hardy, fiancée to the wealthy Sam Adler and live-in secretary to Sam’s widowed step-mother, Mrs. Armstrong (played by Shelley Winters). Mrs. Armstrong, convinced that Ellen is out for Sam’s money, searches for any reason why the pair should not wed; two pretty-darn-good reasons appear in the form of Mandy and George, Ellen’s younger, murderous siblings.

Of course, Ellen makes no mention of their murderous past, instead telling Mrs. Armstrong that they lived with their uncle, now deceased. But her lie can only last so long, and shatters completely when Mandy requests a “mad room.”

What exactly is a mad room? It’s a place where George and Mandy can let off steam, a place where they can feel safe, calm, and confident… So what’s the mutilated body doing there?

Certainly, some belief needs to be suspended when watching The Mad Room – seriously, why did Ellen let her siblings move in with her??? – but if you can do that, you’re in for a treat. The movie was quirky, full of talented stars playing some surprisingly creepy characters. Not to mention the twist ending, the romantic side plots, and the dark humor that pervades every scene.

Is the twist expected? Yes, very. But does that take away from the viewing experience? Not at all! The Mad Room is twisted enough even without the ending, and you’d be mad not to give it a shot.

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