Thursday, 17 November 2011

Review: Dr Terror's House of Horrors

Winner of the Annual Film Title That Tries Way Too Hard award.
Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1965)

One night, five ordinary men climb into a railway compartment.  A six man sits down.  This one is not so ordinary.  Speaking with a strange middle-European accent, he wears a coat that is almost a cloak and his hat and beard give him a sinister appearance.  He carries with him a deck of tarot cards, which he says can tell a persons future and what he can do to avoid it.  As the train travels through the night, the curious yet sceptical group allows the stranger to tell their fortunes, though the future doesn't look very bright for any of them.

anthology horror films have had a good run in Britain ever since Dead of Night and Three Cases of Murder, but they reached something of a vogue in the late 60s and early 70s.  Dr Terror's House of Horrors is one of the lighter entries.  Despite having a strong cast lead by Peter Cushing as Dr Schreck (Dr Terror) and Christopher Lee along with a young Donald Sutherland in a feature roles, Dr Terror reaches for thrills, but the stories are timid and anaemic–unwilling to grasp at anything really frightening and director Freddie Francis has real trouble establishing a proper atmosphere in any scenes except for the bookends on the train.  Still, the cast never indulges in the temptation to wink at the camera and Lee is obviously enjoying a chance to play against type as the waspish art critic who literally shrieks with fright.

It's not a bad film, but it isn't a good one either.  It's more of a cheap paperback sort of work that one would pick up at a newsagents to pass the time on, say, a night time train journey.

1 comment:

  1. Not to be confused with
    "Dr. Terror's House of Pancakes.... IN 3D!"