Death Weekend

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Death Weekend
1977 USA film poster (AIP)
Directed by William Fruet
Produced by Ivan Reitman
Written by William Fruet
Starring Brenda Vaccaro,
Don Stroud,
Chuck Shamata
Cinematography Robert Saad
Edited by Debra Karen,
Debbie Karjala,
Jean LaFleur
Distributed by Cinépix Film Properties (CFP)
Release dates
Running time
87 min
Country Canada
Language English
Budget $500,000 est.

Death Weekend (released in the USA under the title The House by the Lake) is a 1976 Canadian horror/thriller film. It stars Brenda Vaccaro and Don Stroud and was one of the first films from Canadian director William Fruet. The low-budget production was shot in rural Canada and at a studio in Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada.

As of April 2014, the film has never had a DVD release.


Diane (Brenda Vaccaro) is a former fashion model who meets a wealthy gentleman named Harry (Chuck Shamata). After a whirlwind romance, she decides to accompany Harry for a weekend getaway at his remote country house by a lake. It soon becomes obvious to them both that they are not made for each other and they start arguing.

On their way in Harry's sports car, Diane asks Harry to let her drive the rest of the way. They soon encounter a carload of four drunken thugs, led by Lep (Don Stroud) and get into a fit of road rage where Diane forces the punks off the road, wrecking their car. Little do Diane and Harry know that the angry gang follows them, looking for some vicious revenge against the arguing, unhappy and unarmed couple. After the gang rampages through a camping park looking for the car that ran them off the road, they find the car at a rural gas station where Harry had left it to be looked after while taking a less flashy station wagon to the country house. After intimidating the drunk station owners to give them the location to where Harry lives, Lep and his friends drive off to their destination.

The four thugs break into the lake house and hold both Diane and Harry hostage. Over the rest of the day and night, Lep and his three cohorts (Runt, Frankie, and Stanley), terrorize, harass, and humiliate their two captives from vandalizing the house to stealing Harry's speedboat and wrecking it. When Diane attempts to escape, Lep recaptures her and, as punishment, rapes her.

At nightfall, the gang becomes more out of control with drinking and smoking dope. Harry confronts them with a pump-action shotgun, but he hesitates to shoot and Lep snatches the weapon from his hands. Lep then uses it to kill Harry as he attempts to flee from the house, and Diane is taken to a bedroom to be raped again, this time by Runt. Diane fights back and eventually kills Runt by slashing his neck with a shard of mirror glass and she manages to flee from the house. She later traps Stanley in the boathouse and sets it on fire, allowing him to burn to death. She then lures the pursuing Frankie to a nearby bog where he falls into a quicksand pit and drowns.

In the morning, Diane and the shotgun-toting Lep face off in a final confrontation in an open field where she attempts to hotwire and escape in Harry's car (with Harry's dead body in the front seat) as Lep tries to shoot her with the shotgun. When Lep runs out of ammunition, he climbs on top of the moving car to stop Diane attempting to drive away. The confrontation ends when Diane manages to shake him off the hood, and then runs him over, killing him.

Diane drives the bullet-ridden car to the road where the car stalls on the side of the road. Finally, Diane, looking exhausted and dazed, exits the totaled car and looks down the empty road.


US Release[edit]

The film was released in the USA by American International Pictures under the title House by the Lake. At the time of release, there was some controversy over the films intense scenes of violence. Still, the film was released with only minor cuts to the original version.

Home video releases[edit]

Over the years, the film has gained some acclaim among horror film buffs and though it was released on VHS at one point by Vestron Video (under the title Death Weekend), the film has yet to receive a DVD release.

Alternate versions[edit]

The US and English Canadian VHS releases are cut. Edited from the film was an additional shot of Lep on top of Diane as he attempts to rape her, a more graphic shot of Diane slashing Runt's throat, and a longer shot of Stanley burning to death.

However, both the French Canadian and Spanish VHS versions were released uncut.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]