The Halfway House

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The Halfway House (2004) is an independent horror-comedy film from writer-director Kenneth J. Hall (best known for The Puppet Masters). It stars cult actress Mary Woronov, Janet Tracy Keisler, and Shawn Savage. Porn star and spanking actress Ashley Fires also appears in a small role.

This movie is both an affectionate homage and a parody of schlocky occult horror and gory slasher films. It also includes elements of sexploitation film subgenres such as Women in Prison films and nunsploitation added to the mix.


Young girls are disappearing from (and near) the Mary Magdalen Halfway House for Troubled Girls. Desperate to find out what became of her missing sister, Larissa Morgan goes undercover to infiltrate the Catholic-run institution. There she finds a sinister and secretive nun (Mary Woronov), tough lesbian inmates, a punishment-obsessed priest who reads spanking magazines and has a closet filled with BDSM style spanking and flogging implements (as well as an inflateable sex doll in schoolgirl clothes), a creepy maintenance man, and a demonic bug-eyed monster living in the dungeonesque basement.

The spanking scene[edit]

The scene features a perverted priest who has a large wooden paddle with "Jesus" spelled in rhinestones. He has two bad girls bend over his desk for a paddling in his office. The girls have to loudly recite "The power of Christ compels me" before each stroke. We see mostly front-angle face reaction shots plus a few quick closeups of the paddle smacking the girls' bare asses. During this, the scene also cuts away several times to the other girls singing in the church. Around a dozen smacks are delivered, some are heard off camera.

Later on, another girl gets into trouble and an off-camera paddling is alluded to but not shown.

A video clip of the paddling seen can be viewed at SpankingTube.

The House That Screamed[edit]

The initial premise – girls disappearing from a sinister boarding school – plus the punishment scene with ironic, contrasting cut-away shots, appears to be inspired by the Spanish film The House That Screamed (1969), which began a new genre of stalker-horror movies.

In this film, a girl is locked in a punishment room and brutally whipped for misbehaving. Several times during the flogging sequence, this cuts away to the other girls reciting their evening prayers. (Video clip on YouTube.)

See also[edit]