03/01/2009

DR TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965)

Day #22.
Temperature: Freezing.
Weather: Blizzard.
Visibility: Don't know - can't see for the blizzard.

Confined to my igloo with nothing but the endless static on the battered old transistor radio for company. Then - a miracle! An ancient portable TV in the corner (yes, this igloo does have a corner) crackles into life! A message starts to appear! Perhaps this could be a clue as to why I'm here? And how I can get out? I'll fetch a pen and paper. Must write this down. Must record what happens...


DR TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS (1965)

Roy Castle, Kenny Lynch and Alan 'Fluff' Freeman???


Why, it can only be a classic British horror anthology from Amicus!

It's a great title for a horror movie, but I have issues with it. We meet Dr. Terror on a train. We never see his house. So why not call it Dr. Terror's Train of something or other... Horror, Trauma, Doom, whatever... why house???

Anyway, we're on the train. The 7:55 express to Bradley. It's one of those wonderful old fashioned carriages where 6 people could sit together. One of them is the mysterious, bushily eyebrowed Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing). Schreck means 'terror' in German apparently. Hence the title. Although unless 'house' means 'train' in German, I still have issues with it.

Dr. Schreck whips out a pack of Tarot cards and, what with this being the days before iPods and Nintendo's, he manages to interest the other guys enough to tell each his future... future... future... future...

First up is a promising but disappointing tale called 'Werewolf' in which an architect travels home to a Scottish island to renovate an old house of his, now owned by an odd old lady. It's a bit of a plodder. Next.

The second story is a bit silly. And not in a good way, as Alan 'Fluff' 'Not 'arf' 'Howdy Pop-pickers'Freeman get terrorised by a killer plant. Not as much fun as you'd think.

The third story's a belter! Now we're talking! Biff Bailey (Roy Castle) steals music from an ancient voodoo ritual during a visit to the West Indies. When he performs his new song back in blighty all HELL breaks loose (as a disapproving Kenny Lynch looks on). Marvellous stuff, despite being borderline racist.

Then we come to the fourth and finest installment, the unforgettable 'Disembodied Hand'. Step forward Christopher Lee...

... a harsh, pompous, twat of an art critic who constantly lets everyone know how awful he thinks artist Eric Landor's (Michael Gough) work is. Eric gets his revenge when he fools Lee into praising a work by an unknown artist, who is then revealed to be a chimpanzee! Much hilarity ensues, and Eric should have left it at that really, but he proceeds to rub it in by constantly following Lee to important functions and reminding him of his lapse of judgement. Making monkey sounds at him. Throwing bananas at him, that sort of thing. Eventually Lee snaps and takes his revenge by running the artist down in cold blood. The artist loses his hand. But not for long, as the hand proceeds to stalk poor Christopher Lee!
As an eight year old, this was terrifying stuff indeed. As The Igloo Keeper, perhaps not quite as terrifying. But still fabulous fun!

The final part 'Vampire' features a young Donald Sutherland...

...who suspects his wife is a vampire. I liked it. Very nice twist.

And then we're back in the train carriage as it reaches its destination... where can they be?

I have a bit of a problem with the ending(as well as the title, now that I come to think about it) in as much as - I just don't get. Oh, I realise that it's about not being able to cheat death or something but... why all the palaver? Why all the tales about vampires and werewolves if... ? If you've seen it, and you're not as dumb as me, please explain... you know my address: The Igloo Keeper, Igloo of the Uncanny, Desolate Arctic Wasteland.

2 comments:

  1. Fab fun indeed! When the hell is this sucker ever coming out on dvd?

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  2. The ending was a bit vague, but the most I could make of it is this: The fifth card offers each man an alternative destiny, a way out of the fate ostensibly determined for him. For each, it transpires that death is his only alternative. As they are all together in the train, this leads them to conclude that it's likely that the train will crash. When the train eventually stops, ostensibly free of incident, it seems to be revealed that while the men were paying attention to Dr. Terror they have all been killed and so escaped their more colourful demises.

    (If you want to know any _wherefores_ I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest!)

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