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Newlyweds try to survive life at a haunted family estate.
In Maine, Quentin Collins takes his bride Tracy to Collinwood, an estate he has inherited but never seen. Since the death of the former owner, Mrs. Stoddard, the estate has been maintained by the somber housekeeper, Carlotta Drake, and her nephew, Gerard Styles, who serves as caretaker. Quentin and Tracy are at first thrilled with the beautiful estate, especially as they have invited their close friends, Gothic mystery novelists Alex and Claire Jenkins, to live rent-free in the gatehouse. Despite the comforting feeling that he has come home, Quentin is uneasy about visions he begins to have: a woman hanged from a nearby tree and a little servant girl looking out the window. The old mansion has a large art collection and Quentin, a painter by profession, is taken with a portrait of a former inhabitant of the house, Angelique Collins, who died in 1810. At Carlotta's suggestion, Quentin sets up his studio in the old tower room, which was used similarly by a previous resident. In a secret closet built into the wall he finds another, more seductively dressed image of Angelique. In the studio, Quentin has visions of Angelique being painted by her brother-in-law and lover, Charles Collins, and, in nightmares, sees that it is Angelique being hung as a witch. Quentin shares these visions with Tracy and the Jenkinses. On another night, Quentin awakens and proceeds to the tower room, where the ghost of Angelique awaits him. As if reliving Charles's life, he begins to make love to her, but is interrupted by Gerard, whom the delusional Quentin confuses with Angelique's jealous husband Gabriel and attacks. Carlotta and Tracy are drawn by the noise, and Tracy runs to Quentin. However, Quentin, still believing he is Charles, tries to strangle Tracy, whom he sees as Charles's wife Laura. Later, after regaining his reason, Quentin worries for Tracy's safety, but she assures him that all will be well. The next day, while walking on the grounds, Alex narrowly escapes harm when parts of a dilapidated greenhouse collapse around him. Tracy, who is out riding a horse, sees the incident, and after assuring herself that Alex is unharmed, tells him about Quentin's behavior the night before. Uncomfortable in the tower, Quentin sets up his studio in a downstairs room, but Carlotta mysteriously tries to dissuade him. Although Quentin wants the portrait of Angelique removed, Carlotta returns it to its place on the wall. Angered by her insistence, Quentin accuses her of knowing about his dreams and demands an explanation. Carlotta claims that, in a previous incarnation, she was a little servant girl who worked for the Collins' family, Sarah Castle, and retains her memories of over one hundred and fifty years ago. Like Quentin, she explains, she has lived before and remembers it. She tells him that Angelique will always love him and then recounts events that happened in their previous lives: Sarah eavesdrops when the conniving Laura, a minister and other men of the town ask for Gabriel's agreement to hang Angelique as a witch. They force their way into the tower room and, despite Charles's attempts to stop them, take Angelique down the stairs. Crying, Sarah runs to Angelique, whom she adores, and Angelique gives her a necklace, saying that as long as she wears it, Sarah will remember her. After Angelique's death, Sarah hears her voice telling her to keep her spirit alive and that someday she will know what she is to do. In the present, Carlotta says that Quentin will soon accept that he is Charles and that Tracy does not belong there. To Quentin's passionate declaration that he loves Tracy, Carlotta suggests that he leave Collinwood¿if he can. On a walk with Tracy, Quentin tells her he needs her, but later sends her to bed alone. As if lured by Angelique, he returns to the tower room. When Tracy later awakens and knocks on the tower room door, he yells that he "can't stand the sight" of her and orders her never to return there. The next day, after the Jenkinses go to New York to consult with an early American art specialist and Quentin goes to town for supplies, Tracy takes the key from Quentin's jacket, unlocks the tower and sees a painting of Quentin carrying the body of Angelique. When Quentin returns, Tracy hides from him and tries surreptitiously to return the key. That night, in their bedroom, after Quentin tells her he knows she was in the tower room and assures her that he is not angry, she admits that she is afraid. Tenderly he talks to her, but then abruptly becomes hostile, claiming that if she does not like it, she can leave. Meanwhile, the Jenkinses have returned with a portrait of Charles, who, except for a scar, looks exactly like Quentin. In the morning, they intend to show Quentin, hoping he will be convinced to vacate the mansion. However, during the night, Angelique haunts Alex, surrounding him in a thick, white, smoke-like substance that nearly kills him until he is awakened by Claire's scream. In the mansion, Tracy awakens and feels lured to a disused natatorium on the estate. Quentin is there and, believing he is Charles and she Laura, tries to drown her. Realizing the danger that threatens Quentin and Tracy, the Jenkinses drive to the mansion, but on their way, see Quentin leave the natatorium. Inside the building they find and revive Tracy. While Tracy and Claire return to the gatehouse, Alex proceeds to the house and confronts Quentin, who remembers nothing. When he discovers that Tracy is missing Quentin is at first concerned, but then the spirit of Charles overtakes him and he demands that Alex leave. Afterward, realizing that Alex was right about the danger facing them, Quentin prods Carlotta into revealing that Gerard is doing "what has to be done." As Quentin races to the gatehouse to save Tracy and his friends, Gerard ambushes Alex and runs him off the road, crashing the car, and then goes to the gatehouse. Upon discovering Gerard outside, Claire shoots and injures him, but he manages to slip inside and abduct Tracy. Quentin finds Gerard on the footbridge and in the ensuing fight, as Gerard attacks Quentin with a knife, Tracy finds a log and knocks him off the bridge to his death on railroad tracks below. Realizing the only way to exorcize Angelique's ghost is to find Carlotta because she keeps Angelique's spirit alive, they return to the mansion. Quentin and Tracy, lighting their way with candelabras, enter the cellars beneath the house, where Angelique traps Tracy in a room. Meanwhile, Alex corners Carlotta on the roof of the building, but, seeing Angelique beckon to her from below, she jumps to her death, after which Quentin frees Tracy. After Quentin goes to town to arrange to sell the estate, he returns to the gatehouse, where Tracy and the Jenkinses are preparing to escape to Cape Cod. They leave in two separate cars, but at a fork in the road, Quentin heads toward the house, saying he must pick up his canvases. Promising to be quick, he leaves Tracy in the car, enters and collects his belongings, but then lingers. When Tracy goes in search of him, she discovers that he has acquired the characteristic limp and facial scar of Charles. Although at first confused, she then sees Angelique, who is present in the flesh, and screams as Charles approaches her. A short time later, a news bulletin reports that the Jenkinses died in a highway accident, before which, according to witnesses, their car filled with thick white smoke.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||GP||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles opening: 22 Sep 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Metrocolor)||Distributions Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Dan Curtis Productions, Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||93, 94, 96 or 97||Country:||United States|
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