Tag Archives: Peter Cushing

The House That Dripped Blood-1971

The House That Dripped Blood-1971

Director Peter Duffell

Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing

Scott’s Review #1,408

Reviewed October 31, 2023

Grade: B+

Any horror project including Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing is worth a watch and The House That Dripped Blood (1971) features both actors though sadly not in any scenes together.

The British horror anthology is spooky and perfect for the Halloween season. The action surrounds a hulking house where bad events occur regardless of who inhabits it.

The film is divided into four short stories explaining the circumstances surrounding the individual inhabitants.

The production is low budget which is perfect for a film like this but the title makes it seem bloodier and gorier than it is.

All of the stories were originally written, and subsequently scripted, by Robert Bloch.

Below is a summary, review, and rating of each vignette.

Framework: B+

Shortly after renting an old country house, a well-known film star Paul Henderson mysteriously disappears and Inspector Holloway (John Bennett) from Scotland Yard is called by a local Sergeant to investigate.

Inquiring at the local police station, he is told some of the house’s history.

He soon learns how four tenants met macabre fates.

The ‘Framework’ sequence goes between the vignettes and provides good context but is more or less just the interplay between Inspector and Sergeant.

This serves as an introduction to each chapter and ties the events together.

Method for Murder: A-

Charles Hillyer (Denholm Elliott) is a struggling writer who specializes in horror stories. He and his wife Alice (Joanna Dunham), move into the house thinking it will serve as inspiration. Charles creates a devious character named ‘Dominic’ after he ‘imagines’ seeing him outside a window.

Charles soon starts to see Dominic, who begins stalking and tormenting him.

My second favorite of the four chapters, I all but guessed the ‘twist’ from the get-go but was surprised at the ‘twist on top of a twist’ which pleased me.

It’s great when a villain thinks they’ve gotten away with murder only to be murdered themselves.

Waxworks: B+

Retired stockbroker Philip Grayson (Cushing) moves into the house with plans to read, garden, and relax. Though initially he occupies himself with his hobbies, he quickly becomes lonely. One day, while wandering around town, he happens upon a wax museum.

Grayson explores the museum and finds a sculpture of a dead woman he had been in love with. The museum’s proprietor explains that he based the likeness of the sculpture on his late wife, who had been executed after murdering his best friend.

Despite featuring Cushing, it’s a moderately good story but lacks the compelling nature of a couple of the other vignettes.

It’s less about the house itself and more about the wax museum and obsession is the subject matter.

While decent, Waxworks didn’t blow me away either.

Sweets to the Sweet: A

Widower John Reid (Lee) moves into the house next along with his odd young daughter Jane (Chloe Franks). John hires former teacher Ann Norton (Nyree Dawn Porter) to tutor Jane. Ann bonds with Jane, she helps Jane get over a fear of fire.

Ann suspects John of abusing Jane but is there more to the story? Why doesn’t he let Jane play with other children or toys and do his best to keep her isolated?

Is there something wrong with Jane?

This is the best installment and has a resemblance to The Innocents (1961) featuring a governess and a spooky child. Viewers will find themselves switching alliances with the characters as the story rapidly moves along.

The Cloak: B+

Finally, horror film actor Paul Henderson (Jon Pertwee) moves into the house while starring in a vampire film being shot nearby.

Irritated by the lack of maturity or talent from the cast and crew he decides to purchase a realistic cloak worn by his character (who happens to be a vampire). The shop he makes his purchase from is run by the enigmatic Theo von Hartmann (Geoffrey Bayldon) who eerily offers him a black cloak.

This one plays like a Hammer Horror Dracula installment and is good but not great. Less happens within the confines of the house than I’d like and Paul is an unlikable character.

The action on the movie set and in the shop are the best parts.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula-1973

The Satanic Rites of Dracula-1973

Director Alan Gibson

Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Joanna Lumley

Scott’s Review #1,405

Reviewed October 16, 2023

Grade: B+

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) is the eighth film in the Hammer Horror Dracula series, and the seventh and final one to feature Christopher Lee in the starring role. It also unites legendary horror actor Peter Cushing with Lee for the third time.

So, the territory and storyline are hardly unchartered and a film like this is for a targeted audience.

For those unclear, Hammer Horror films are a series of low-budget British films produced by the London-based company featuring gothic and fantasy-type films.

Their heyday was from the mid-1950s until the 1970s.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula comes at the end of the horror genre reign of terror but is enjoyable nonetheless. It’s redundant in a way because I’ve seen so many of them by now that there’s little intrigue anymore.

It’s not a surprise anymore what’s going to transpire in the film.

I love these films mostly because of the low budget and the creative and sophisticated sets and art design. But the main selling point is the Lee/Cushing pairing.

After a Secret Service agent barely escapes an English country estate where satanic rituals are being held and later dies Van Helsing (Cushing) is asked to investigate.

He seeks the seven hundred-year-old count (Lee), who is dead and living in London with his vampire bride and a breed of other undead women dressed in red robes.

Van Helsing’s granddaughter Jessica played by Joanna Lumley is introduced as well as another Secret Service agent, Murray (Michael Coles).

The team naturally winds up at the English estate where they discover shenanigans led by a female Chinese vampire (Barbara Yu Ling). They grapple with fire and brimstone as they determinedly attempt to take down Dracula once and for all (yeah right!).

The film is silly but in the best of ways. I enjoyed the very beginning and ending most of all. When the Secret Service agent runs down the vast estate driveway amid darkness the mysterious pursuing motorcycle men provide intrigue, and the plot is hatched.

As fans know well the finale will result in a fiery showdown between good and evil and the benevolent Van Helsing destroys the villainous Dracula with a strong stake to the heart.

This technique is used a few times during The Satanic Rites of Dracula and in comic fashion, a stake and hammer always seem to be at the ready.

But the fun is good besting evil after all and delightful is seeing a vampire’s fangs come into view as the unsuspecting victim gasps in shock or shrieks in terror.

By 1973 Cushing and Lee could probably deliver their dialogue in their sleep and the motivation doesn’t seem to be there. Lee barely appears until the final act.

The introduction of Lumley, well-known to Absolutely Fabulous fans is wise and breathes new life into the familiar characters. She brings a Nancy Drew-type appeal especially as she sneaks into the estate basement to investigate peculiar noises.

A hoot for Hammer Horror fans or fans of British horror but it’s not one of the best in the series. Enjoyable mostly for additional tidbits like howling wind, creepy noises, and lavish drapes, furniture, and various set pieces.

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) is a nice watch in October around Halloween.

The Brides of Dracula-1960

The Brides of Dracula-1960

Director Terence Fisher

Starring Peter Cushing, Yvonne Monlaur

Scott’s Review #1,218

Reviewed January 9, 2022

Grade: B+

It’s always impressive to me what Hammer Film Productions do with such a limited budget mostly from a set and art direction perspective. With small funds, they can create gloomy yet beautiful set structures that are highly creative and appear lavish.

To the savvy viewer, this tidbit can make each film a treasure trove of enjoyment if only to look beyond the central activity and notice the style.

The Brides of Dracula (1960) is no exception.

The film is a sequel to the 1958 film Dracula (also known as Horror of Dracula), though the character of Count Dracula does not appear, and is instead mentioned only twice. As fans of these films know Christopher Lee portrays Dracula. Instead, the vicious vampire at the film’s center is Baron Meinster, a disciple of Dracula played by David Peel.

The villain even bites his mother played by Martita Hunt making her undead and terrifying to the residents of a Spanish village.

Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) is the hero and must drive a stake through the heart of the vampire baron before he deviously makes innocent Marianne (Yvonne Monlaur) his bride.

Cushing is a familiar part of Hammer horror film lore leading the charge as the film’s hero. I love the character because he is heroic and unflinching, always calm, cool, and collected in the face of sheer horror.

The sets are gothic and brilliant, especially the gloomy castle owned by the Baroness and her son. When she invites Marianne to spend the night the girl is treated to a stylish room and a ravishing dinner served by a threatening servant named Greta.

The exteriors are as good as the interiors and portray the village within Transylvania as cozy and homespun. Outside the prominent inn run by the locals is inviting as much as it feels forbidden and haunted.

When Marianne is abandoned in the village by her terrified coach driver we know that secrets or living creatures are waiting to be unearthed.

These atmospheric additions will compel audiences to tune in and enjoy the horrific moments.

Speaking of horror, The Brides of Dracula feels enough like camp and not scary, and comic elements exist throughout. No better example of this is the bumbling and boozy Doctor Tobler played by character actor Miles Malleson.

While many moments are over the top especially when a vampire character bares their fangs in the best hammy way, the film never feels foolish or amateurish.

A huge misstep is naming the film The Brides of Dracula when no Dracula is ever to be found. I incorrectly assumed that the Baron was Dracula until after the final credits had rolled. It’s a sneaky way to capitalize on the name recognition of Dracula.

There are too many fun moments in the film to harbor much resentment. Of the brides, my favorite is Gina, played by Andree Melly who looks the most frightening.

The Brides of Dracula (1960) is an entertaining and pleasing chapter in the Hammer horror catalog. The expected elements include a crucifix and a healthy dose of holy water.

Tales from the Crypt-1972

Tales from the Crypt-1972

Director Freddie Francis

Starring Joan Collins, Ian Hendry, Robin Phillips

Scott’s Review #1,200

Reviewed November 25, 2021

Grade: A-

Tales from the Crypt (1972) is a delicious British anthology based on stories from the EC Comics series. Each of the five chapters is eerie storytelling that offers horror fans glimpses into the minds of depraved and devilish characters with sinister motivations.

The sheer joy is witnessing their comeuppance.

This film is the predecessor to Vault of Horror from 1973 and can easily be watched as a companion piece.

Below is a summary, review, and rating of each vignette.

Intro

Five strangers are suddenly compelled to go with a tourist group to view old catacombs.

Separated from the main group, the strangers find themselves in a room with the mysterious Crypt Keeper (Ralph Richardson), who details how each of them may die.

…And All Through The House- A

Joanne Clayton (Joan Collins) brutally kills her husband Richard (Martin Boddey) on Christmas Eve to get her hands on their insurance money.

She prepares to hide his body but hears a radio announcement of a homicidal maniac (Oliver MacGreevy) on the loose.

She sees the killer (who is dressed in a Santa Claus costume) outside her house, but cannot call the police without exposing her crime.

Her daughter is upstairs in her bedroom, unaware.

This is my favorite chapter and is non-stop action. Collins is terrific as the greedy English woman put in peril. The audience will cheer for her to get her just desserts especially after she callously disregards a lovely Christmas gift her husband bought for her.

Reflection of Death- B+

Carl Maitland (Ian Hendry) abandons his family to be with his secretary, Susan Blake (Angela Grant). After they drive off together, they are involved in a car accident. He wakes up, having been thrown clear of the burned car. He tries to hitchhike home, but everyone he meets screams with horror when they see him.

This vignette is slightly confusing as far as the timeline of the events but compelling as we wait to see what Carl’s face looks like and what has happened to Susan and his wife.

Poetic Justice- A

James Elliott (Robin Phillips) lives with his father Edward (David Markham) across from the home of elderly dustman Arthur Edward Grimsdyke (Peter Cushing), who owns several dogs and entertains children in his house.

James hates Arthur’s ramshackle lawn and embarks on a scheme to rid the neighborhood of the old man.

I love seeing Cushing play against type as a kindly grandfatherly character and this chapter is the ultimate revenge fantasy and quite satisfying to see what happens to James.

It’s also a perfect watch on Valentine’s Day since the holiday comes into play.

Wish You Were Here- A-

Businessman Ralph Jason (Richard Greene) is on the verge of financial collapse. His wife Enid (Barbara Murray) notices the inscription on a Chinese statue the couple owns.

They are granted three wishes. Enid decides to wish for a fortune and, surprisingly, the wish comes true, but with dire results.

This one wonderfully cascades a chain of events that leaves the characters in peril. The theme is once again about greed specifically surrounding insurance money. The fast-paced nature is appealing and the ancient Chinese wishes leave one character into eternal suffering.

Blind Alleys- A-

Major William Rogers (Nigel Patrick) becomes the new director of a home for the blind and exploits his position to live in luxury with his dog Shane, while his drastic financial cuts on food and heating lessen the residents’ living conditions.

Led by George Carter (Patrick Magee) the residents revolt after a fellow resident dies of hypothermia. Rogers and Shane are locked in the basement where Rogers must navigate through a maze of razor blades and a now ravenous wild dog who will hungrily eat his owner.

Though far-fetched, Blind Alleys is delicious fun and contains my most hated character. This is all the more satisfying as he ‘gets it’ in the end!

Finale

After completing the final tale, the Crypt Keeper reveals that he was not warning them of what would happen, but telling them what has already happened: they have all “died without repentance.

The conclusion does nothing more than put a satisfying cap for the viewer as each character once again pays for their shenanigans.

Horror of Dracula-1958

Horror of Dracula-1958

Director Terence Fisher

Starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee

Scott’s Review #1,083

Reviewed November 17, 2020

Grade: B+

The first colorized retelling of the classic vampire film starring Bela Lugosi from 1931, Horror of Dracula (1958) infuses style and a modern feel into the production making it a formidable entry compared to the original.

The film launched the popular and delightful British Hammer Horror film series, which included eight Dracula sequels.

British horror films nearly always add macabre elements and a British sophistication that merge class with gothic, and the film is a perfect late-night watch during the Halloween season for maximum effect.

The atmospheric tone is key and will leave horror fans in bliss. The addition of horror stalwarts Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee only increases the pleasures.

On a gloomy night in 1885, a librarian named Jonathan Harker (John Van Eyssen) arrives at Count Dracula’s castle in Romania to begin his new assignment.

Secretly a vampire hunter, he is bitten by a desperate woman, really a vampire, begging for help. Jonathan manages to kill the woman but is then killed by Dracula (Lee). Doctor Van Helsing (Cushing) arrives at the castle to investigate, but Dracula already has designs on Jonathan’s fiancée, Lucy (Carol Marsh).

A battle of good versus evil ensues.

Lee brings sexuality to Dracula that Lugosi lacks, though Lugosi is the creepier of the two. I love the close-up scenes where Dracula bears his enormous fangs and his eyes turn red in good close-up style.

The casting of Lee is perfect as he becomes identifiable even in the first installment. I also love how Lee is tall, giving the character a menacing, foreboding, distinguished look.

Many might secretly welcome him nibbling on their necks!

Cushing, later to be cast as the villain, is wonderful as the empathetic Van Helsing. Lee and Cushing play well against each other. Van Helsing is stoic and confident as he smoothly leads the charge against Dracula and guides Jonathan’s loved ones into unchartered and unimaginable territory. It’s almost as if he has been through this before.

A great scene occurs when Van Helsing arrives in town for a brandy and a drink at the local pub, its inhabitants suspicious and frightened, draping garlic over the entryway and hoping he will leave soon.

The best part of House of Dracula is the atmosphere we are treated to and the color razzles dazzle. The story is good, but the texture powerfully shines through.

Careful not to be too showy, director Terence Fisher, soon to be a Hammer horror main fixture, uses his limited budget to his advantage in clever form.

Fisher realized his project was a colorized version and created a polished-looking, colorful, stained glass window, prevalent in several scenes. Dracula’s castle, especially the bedroom where Jonathan stayed, is part cozy and homespun, part gothic and chilling. The cellar crypt is equally vast yet confining, as the open coffins provide wonders of who lies in them.

The plethora of books elicits a cerebral feeling.

The finale is well done, but not as spectacular as expected. Other parts are better. Van Helsing chases Dracula in a race against the sunrise, ripping curtains down to provide harsh light, and turning Dracula to dust.

I was expecting a little more and more blood or a good stake through the heart. Fortunately, that entertainment was provided earlier in the film.

Having never read the 1897 Gothic horror novel by Bram Stroker (it’s on my list!), the film is pretty on target.

The film bestows creepy elements and sexuality with great color, lighting, and set design. The lesson learned is that a hefty budget and CGI can’t replicate the creative design and good effects.

Torture Garden-1968

Torture Garden-1968

Director Freddie Francis

Starring Burgess Meredith, Jack Palance, Peter Cushing

Scott’s Review #1,027

Reviewed May 28, 2020

Grade: B

A horror offering made up of multiple vignettes is a treat as we get numerous stories, especially with some late 1960s British sophistication peppered in.

Torture Garden (1968) contains four stories- Enoch, Terror over Hollywood, Mr. Steinway, and The Man Who Collected Poe, each with some intrigue. The structure may be most comparable to The Twilight Zone television series but in a British way.

The Terror over Hollywood is my personal favorite.

Burgess Meredith (yes, that Burgess Meredith of the Batman television series) stars as Doctor Diabolo, a sinister con artist who runs an attraction at a fairground sideshow.

Having shown them a handful of tepid haunted house-style gimmicks to whet their appetites, he promises them a frightening experience if they pay extra.

Of course, they are immediately taken, and when they follow him behind a curtain, one by one they view their fates through a transfixed female deity Atropos (Clytie Jessop).

The stories commence through a hallucinogenic method.

Below is a summary and review of each vignette.

In Enoch, Colin Williams (Michael Bryant) a greedy playboy with money troubles, takes advantage of his elderly uncle (Maurice Denham), by causing his death and falling under the spell of a man-eating cat.

Colin is determined to find his uncle’s riches, leading him to desperation. The plot is far-fetched but the black cat with glowing green eyes is memorable as are the be-headings of a homeless man, a nurse, and finally, the playboy himself.

When the cat finally puts another person under the spell the conclusion is satisfying.

Terror over Hollywood travels across the pond to the United States and introduces a tale of jealousy, schemes, and intrigue in La La Land.

The vignette most resembles Invasion of the Body Snatchers in theme and is quite compelling.

Carla Hayes (Beverley Adams) is a beautiful, aspiring actress intent on clawing her way to the top by any necessary means. After she ruins her roommate’s dress and steals her date, she embarks on a strange journey that leads her to a role in a film, but there is a price to pay.

Adams is a stellar star who brings life and energy to the story.

Providing the most bizarre of all the vignettes Mr. Steinway involves a possessed grand piano by the name of Euterpe who becomes jealous of its owner Leo’s (John Standing) new lover Dorothy (Barbara Ewing) and goes on the attack seeking revenge.

The story is about Dorothy, who is one of the sideshow patrons, so the events are shown from her perspective.

The story contains plenty of loopholes, but it’s fascinating to see the enormous and gorgeous piano come to life as a character and push Dorothy out the window plummeting to her death.

Finally, in The Man Who Collected Poe, a Poe collector (Jack Palance) murders another collector (Peter Cushing) over collectibles he refuses to show him, only to find that the keepsake is the real Edgar Allan Poe (Hedger Wallace).

Seeing both the esteemed real-life figure and horror legend Cushing makes this chapter enjoyable even though it is the least compelling of the bunch. Knowing that Torture Garden was originally meant to star Cushing and Christopher Lee detracts from the film just a bit.

One can only imagine the possibilities.

In the epilogue, which proves to be a clever twist, the mysterious fifth patron (Michael Ripper) scares the others into fleeing for their lives before revealing that he is a conspirator of Doctor Diabolos.

The group is proven to be merely gullible rubes, left with the belief that a murder has occurred and their fates will come true.

The film espouses black magic and the occult in a fun way but not a frightening way. This is both a positive and a negative since witchcraft never felt so family-friendly.

Torture Garden (1968) is not the best horror anthology ever created, nor is it the worst. The plots are uneven but entertaining and never dull.

The creative additions of a killer piano, a killer cat, and famed storyteller Edgar Allen Poe are worth the price of admission as is the centerpiece villain played by the great actor Burgess Meredith, who helps keep the plot moving along.

Scream and Scream Again-1969

Scream and Scream Again-1969

Director Gordon Hessler

Starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing

Scott’s Review #899

Reviewed May 16, 2019

Grade: B+

Any film that features horror heavyweights and great actors like Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing is well worth the price of admission for the name status alone. Each is a mainstay attraction in his own right and combined, results in an orgy of riches.

Scream and Scream Again (1969) sputters by limiting the on-screen interaction between the actors but after a reflective pause, I realize the picture is to be revered for its creativity and use of intersecting plotlines into a thrashing crescendo of a surprise ending.

The audience is offered three segments of the story, each periodically revisited as stand-alone segments that culminate into overlapping components.

An athletic runner trots along the streets of London suddenly suffering from an attack only to awaken in the hospital with no legs.

Elsewhere, a deadly intelligence operative reports back to his repressed Eastern European country only to murder his commanding officer with a deadly paralyzing hold.

Finally, a London detective investigates the brutal deaths of several young women in metropolitan nightclubs.

Cushing, reduced to merely a cameo-sized role as the ill-fated officer, is barely worth mentioning and adds little to the film besides appearing in it.

Lee, like Fremont, the head of Britain’s intelligence agency, plays a straight role with not much zest.

Price, with the meatiest role as a mysterious doctor specializing in limb replacement, can give anyone the creeps with his scowling and eerie mannerisms, but the film strikes out by wasting the talents of the other legendary actors.

The film is not at all what a fan of Hammer horror would expect especially based on the horror familiar cast and the gory-sounding title.

Heaping buckets of blood or ghoulish vampires are what was on the anticipated menu but that does not mean the film fails to deliver. It may not please a fan of traditional horror films since the genres of political espionage and science-fiction come heavily into play.

However, the fantastic and peculiar nightclub serial killer storyline will satisfy fans eager for a good kill or two.

My initial reaction to Scream and Scream Again was that of over-complicated writing and too much going on simultaneously, especially for a film of the said horror genre.

After the film concludes and the surprise ending is revealed I realized that the numerous tidbits are necessary to achieve the desired result and events will make the viewer ponder when the film ends.

Not to ruin the big reveal but the filmmakers borrow a healthy dose of Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) in a more macabre way, naturally.

Fans of the 1960s British television series The Avengers will be pleased with Scream and Scream Again as a similar tone exists with both.

The distinctive musical soundtrack, trendy for the 1960s period works well, and the nightclub sequences and some of the detectives feel reminiscent of the show.

The feel of the film is not limited to an episodic television story but contains a similar style.

High British 1960s fashion is also prevalent and pleasing to the eye.

A couple of supporting characters strike a fascination in small and almost entirely non-verbal performances.

A sexy red-headed hospital nurse with superhuman powers and a penchant for removing limbs, combined with a brooding and mysterious serial killer provides dubious intrigue as to who the true characters are.

What is their motivation? Do they work for someone or something sinister? Questions like these will keep the viewer occupied and thirsty for an explanation.

Bizarrely, British film and television director Gordon Hessler crafts an implausible yet fascinating story that keeps the viewer guessing.

Featuring horror superstars Price, Cushing, and Lee would seem like an assured horror masterpiece but the star’s limited time on-screen brings the overall project down a notch.

Scream and Scream Again (1969) still achieves a good measure of worthy entertainment.

Horror Express-1974

Horror Express-1974

Director Eugenio Martin

Starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing

Scott’s Review #311

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Reviewed December 30, 2015

Grade: B

Horror Express (1974) is a fun 1970s Spanish/British horror film starring legendary horror actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

A horror version of Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express with a bit of camp thrown in, it is an entertaining late-night experience, on a low-budget level.

It is the early 1900’s, and while traveling from Shanghai to Moscow, via the Trans-Siberian Express, a British anthropologist named Professor Alexander Saxton (Lee) brings an enormous,  mysterious crate on board that contains a creature he discovered in a cave.

What we know is it has something to do with human evolution.

A fellow passenger, Doctor Wells (Cushing), and various other passengers become suspicious of the crate and demand to have it opened.

Things go awry and victims begin to be murdered by the creature (an ape-like monster) and left with eyes completely white with missing pupils and irises.

The best part of Horror Express is the setting. The cozy train is a perfect backdrop for the events taking place and it makes the film exciting as the different cars are set-decorated nicely.

This lends itself to a sense of entrapment and being unable to escape the creature as it roams freely from car to car.

For being a low-budget film,  the train sets are quite believable, as are the sounds of the train. It feels like the actors are on a real train as the tooting horns and the sounds of the tracks are authentic.

Having actors as big as Lee and Cushing gives the film respect in horror circles and both actors do believable work.

This film would not have been as good without the talents (and name recognition) of both.

There are also interesting supporting characters and I didn’t find the acting to be too over-the-top as is known to occur in similar types of horror films.

Specifically, the countess’s role and the appearance of Telly Savalas as a Cossack officer investigating events are interesting.

Fans of this genre of horror will understand that suspension of disbelief is necessary as the plot gets a bit goofy- something about the creature taking the information from the victim’s brain and the victims subsequently turning into zombies- it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Especially towards the end, as some drunken Russians and some weird resurrections happen, but that is somehow okay.

For a late-night viewing with some spirits, you can’t ask too many questions and Horror Express (1974) is a decent flick.

Madhouse-1974

Madhouse-1974

Director Jim Clark

Starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing

Scott’s Review #233

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Reviewed April 3, 2015

Grade: B-

Madhouse, a 1974 British horror film, stars horror icon Vincent Price who portrays a sympathetic Hollywood actor who is unsure of his sanity after the grisly murder of his trophy fiancé whom he may or may not have been responsible for murdering.

Mainly set in London, Madhouse also stars famed British actors in the latter stages of their careers, such as Peter Cushing, and is a treat for classic British horror fans.

The look of the film is stylistic and effective in the mood- the story, while silly, is also fun.

Paul Toombes (Price) is a famed actor notorious for his character of Dr. Death in a successful film franchise. He seemingly has it all and is the envy of his contemporaries- wealth, notoriety, and a glamorous blonde fiancé named Ellen.

After Ellen is murdered by someone dressed as Dr. Death, Paul is unable to remember the circumstances or his whereabouts during the murder.

After spending years in a mental institution in a confused state he is summoned to London to mount an acting comeback of sorts, reprising his Dr. Death alter-ego.

As the bodies begin to pile up, a whodunit commences- is Paul Toombes the killer, or is someone impersonating him?

The film itself is quite pleasing to a horror fan like me. The deaths, while silly, are fun and campy.

Mostly all female victims, a comical aspect is how the victims, when cornered by the killer, simply scream and stand there waiting to be sliced.

Wouldn’t they fight back in real life?

This film is certainly not realism at its finest but is a fun horror film. It is a bit exaggerated and over-the-top in a campy way but is also true to the 1970s style with the point of view scenes from the killer’s perspective.

A wonderful aspect of this film is real clips of old Vincent Price films (The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum, and House of Usher) to name a few, featuring deceased horror god Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone.

Since the plot involves Price’s character being a former horror actor this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase long-ago classic horror films and it works perfectly.

I enjoyed the television scenes within the film plot as Paul revives his career and shoots a series for the BBC- the film chooses interesting, haunting sets and Cushing’s character of Herbert Flay and his zany wife reside in a spooky, vast mansion with eerie spiders that the wife is obsessed with.

The set pieces are great and very Halloween-like. And the spider-eating-flesh scene is excellent!

The tag team of Price and Cushing is fun to watch- both horror stalwarts connect well and both actors play off of each other successfully.

They had a ball while making this film.

Towards the end of the film, the plot becomes confusing and the big reveal as to the killer’s identity and the motivations surrounding is a disappointment.

The conclusion to the film is silly and makes little sense, although that is secondary to a film of this genre that borders on camp.

Madhouse (1974) is an enjoyable midnight flick starring two of the top classic horror icons.