Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)

Director: Freddie Francis

Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Max Adrian, Ann Bell, Michael Gough, Donald Sutherland, Bernard Lee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Acclaimed as "THE FEAR OF THE YEAR"

Plot: Five strangers board a train and are joined by a mysterious fortune teller who offers to read their Tarot cards. Five separate stories unfold: An architect returns to his ancestral home to find a werewolf out for revenge; a doctor discovers his new wife is a vampire; a huge plant takes over a house; a musician gets involved with voodoo; an art critic is pursued by a disembodied hand.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Sure.

In the 1960s there sprang up, in jolly old England, a competitor to Hammer, the House of Horror, and its name was Amicus. They wanted to make Gothic horror, too (and they often enlisted Hammer regulars like Cushing and Lee as well as Hammer's directors and other behind the camera crew). They also wanted to do something that Hammer hadn't done and that was to revive the horror anthology film - having several different brief vignettes strung together by a common thread. This was their first. Here's the breakdown of the five stories that comprise this collection:

Werewolf - a great first story that keeps you glued until the final seconds with its rushed climax.

Creeping Vine - This is my favorite of the lot. You've got a fast-growing vine that kills little doggies and people, too. GREAT ending and very eerie.

Voodoo - I really dug this one as it features a trumpet player who leads a band and writes a song based on a religious voodoo melody. Not only was it fun but the tune he wrote was a total blast.

Disembodied Hand - Christopher Lee as a snobbish art critic? I can buy that. He sells it, too. Great effects job with the hand and a good story to boot.

Vampire - This one's got Donald Sutherland in an early performance and he's very good. For me, it's weak enough that it shouldn't have ended the film but it's still enjoyable even if the final seconds are rather silly.

But wait! Peter Cushing is the guy who ties this whole thing together and very nicely, too. I really enjoyed this. It's so rare that you get even one or two stories of one of these anthologies that's worth a spit and this one's got five, even if a few of them might be a little weak. They're still better than most of the others I've seen. Give this one a look. You'll be glad you did (at least I hope so.)

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