A slow building psychological horror film with deep roots in mythology; Malpertuis is the definition of ‘weird’ but in the right sort of way.


The film follows Jan (Mathieu Carriere) a sailor who returns from travels to find his hometown much changed. After getting into a bar fight he awakens in Malpertuis – a creepy house, with creepier inhabitants – owned by his rich and dying Uncle Cassavius (Orson Welles). Jan’s arrival signals to Cassavius that it is time to die, but before he goes he plays a cruel trick on his expecting heirs, offering them all great fortunes as long as they remain in the house, something none of them want to do.


What ensues is a strange mix of sex, murder and horror as Jan spends a lot of time creeping around the dark and being given riddles by the other heirs. The other heirs come in a variety of creepy and kooky forms with a weird combination of horrific and hilarious character traits being seen throughout the film. Highlights of the cast for me include the fire obsessed Lampernist (Jean Pierre Cassel) and all three characters played by Susan Hampshire whose performance and make-up was so good that I didn’t realise she played multiple roles until the writing of this post.


The film is crazy in every sense and just when you think it’s settled down it turns around to have one of the craziest endings I’ve seen. It is so bizarre, gruesome, complicated, dramatic and impossible to see coming that it leaves you in a state of awe after watching that film that doesn’t desist.

Malpertuis is a fantastic piece of European horror that is a intriguing experience that stays imprinted on the mind. It is great and not what I expected considering I only chose to watch it for Orson Welles.