Writer/director George Adams’s film Lady Usher is not only the most recent adaptation of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, it’s one of the strangest. Considering he has a producer’s credit on fellow Oklahoma City filmmaker Mickey Reece’s Climate of the Hunter, that might not be so surprising.
Roderick (John Tupy) has left college and returned home to help take care of his ill father (John Ferguson). He not only doesn’t bring his girlfriend Morgan (Billie D. Merritt) he strongly discourages her when she says she wants to come and see him. Being a strong-willed young woman she shows up anyway.
What she finds is a house that seems to belong in another century by way of its inhabitant’s dress and mannerisms. All ruled over by the domineering and manipulative Lady Usher (Theresa Santiago). And the lady of the house is not happy about her unexpected guest.
Our award-winning “genre” psychological/thriller takes the idea of a male protagonist stuck in a house of sickness and turns it on its head. We take a well-known story and discard the patriarchal element in favour of matriarchy.George Adams director of Lady Usher
Almost as soon as Morgan arrives at the House of Usher the fireworks between the two women begin. Fueled by two excellent performances the clash between these two as they vie for dominance over the rather passive Roderick that drives the film. And they drive it to places not a lot of films are willing to go.
Much of the film is set at night as Morgan explores the house, trying to understand what is going on. And despite Lady Usher’s source, that’s as close as it ever gets to being a conventional horror film. It’s certainly horrific in its own way though, just not what we expect from dark spooky houses.
Instead, it’s a horror of twisted minds and psyches. Adams creates an atmosphere of corruption rather than fear. His version of Poe’s story owes more to Jess Franco than Roger Corman, between that atmosphere, the odd visuals and the strong sexual content of the story. If he had presented that last aspect a bit more explicitly Lady Usher could have passed as a tribute to Franco.
If you can deal with the low budget and genuine weirdness, Lady Usher is definitely worth seeing. It’s strange, compelling and genuinely twisted. You can check the film’s website or the director’s Facebook page for a release date.