Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors
| 98 MINS | COLOUR | AMICUS |
When five strangers board a train, they are joined by the mysterious Dr Sandor Schrek. Using a deck of Tarot cards, he offers to tell each one of them their fortunes. Five stories unfold:-
(1.) Werewolf: When Jim Dawson, an architect, returns to his ancestral home to help the new owner with some renovation work, he finds something creepy in the cellar.
(2.) Creeping Vine: Bill Rogers, having returned home from holiday, finds that a vine has started to grow around his house. It soon tries to trap his family in his house.
(3.) Voodoo: Biff Bailey, a jazz musician, writes down some music after hearing it in a voodoo ceremony in the Caribbean. When he uses it back in Britain, he finds that the voodoo spirits do not approve.
(4.) Disembodied Hand: Franklyn Marsh, a bullish art critic, makes some scathing remarks about Eric Landor’s paintings. When Eric Landor humiliates the art critic, Franklyn is out for vengeance.
(5.) Vampire: Dr Bob Carroll sets up a surgery with Dr Blake in a small town. When it becomes apparent that a vampire is on the loose, after some women and children are attacked, Dr Carroll thinks the identity of the vampire might lie close to home.
What will be the passengers’ final destination?
(1.) Werewolf: Behind a wall in the cellar, Dawson finds the coffin of Count Cosmo Valdemar, who owned the house centuries ago. Valdemar was killed in a conflict with the Dawson family, and had vowed to exact revenge on the owner of the house and reclaim his former home. Dawson discovers that Valdemar is emerging to take the form of a werewolf in the night. Believing the owner, Mrs Biddulph’s life to be in danger, he melts a cross made out of silver to make bullets. One night, he encounters the werewolf as it is about to attack Mrs Biddulph and shoots it. The bullets don’t kill it. Mrs Biddulph then reveals that she switched the silver bullets with ordinary ones. She tells Dawson the real legend that Valdemar would exact revenge on the last descendants of the Dawson clan, and that the placing of Dawson’s body in place of Valdemar’s in the coffin would bring Valdemar back to life in human form. She was Valdemar’s wife and lured Dawson there deliberately.
(2.) Creeping Vine: Rogers goes to the Ministry of Defence, where he gets advice from a couple of scientists. The plant has become intelligent and will protect itself against any threats to its existence. One of the scientists manages to escape the house by using a burning rolled-up newspaper. Ominously, the dropped newspaper, which is still burning, is put out by the vine, showing that it has already adapted to its latest threat.
(3.) Voodoo: Biff plays the tune back in Britain, and the nightclub in which he is performing is emptied by huge gusts of wind. Biff runs from the unseen force to his flat where a huge Jamaican man retrieves the tune from Biff’s pocket, whereupon Biff faints in terror.
(4.) Disembodied Hand: Marsh responds by driving at Landor with his car, causing Landor to lose one of his hands. Now unable to paint, Landor commits suicide. Marsh is then tormented by the disembodied hand, which seems immune to all attempts at destroying it. Marsh finally succumbs to the hand when it causes him to be blinded in a car crash, leaving Marsh unable to criticise art.
(5.) Vampire: Dr Carroll finds out that his new bride is a vampire. Following Blake’s advice, Carroll kills his wife, but when the police come to arrest Carroll under the charge of his wife’s murder, Blake denies giving any such advice. The police take away Carroll. Dr Blake says that there is not enough place in the city for two vampires, transforms into a bat and flies away.
Schrek informs the men that the only way they can avoid these horrible fates is by dying first. When the train stops, the men find out that they are dead, having already perished in a train crash. Dr Schreck is revealed to be Death himself.
TimeOut: Suffers from some weak moments, but two of the stories are good.
TheSpinningImage: One of the better chiller anthologies. It’s unpretentious and won’t test your patience.
BritMovie: The vignettes have dated badly and are more amusing than terrifying. The cinematography adds a modicum of creepiness to the proceedings. Disembodied Hand is the best tale.
Dawson: Schreck? That’s a German word isn’t it? Means fear or horror.
- Directed by Freddie Francis
- Produced by Max Rosenberg & Milton Subotsky
- Music by Elisabeth Lutyens
- Cinematography Alan Hume
- Production company Amicus Productions
- The film was a conscious attempt by Milton Subotsky to repeat the success of Dead of Night (1945).
- First feature film of Roy Castle, who was a last-minute replacement for Acker Bilk who had suffered a heart attack.
- Donald Sutherland was paid 1,000 pounds for his performance.
Christopher Lee — Franklyn Marsh | Max Adrian — Dr. Blake | Ann Bell — Ann Rogers | Michael Gough — Eric Landor | Jennifer Jayne — Nicolle | Neil McCallum — Jim Dawson | Bernard Lee — Hopkins | Roy Castle — Biff Bailey | Peter Cushing — Dr Sandor Schreck | Alan Freeman — Bill Rogers | Peter Madden — Caleb | Kenny Lynch — Sammy Coin | Jeremy Kemp — Drake | Donald Sutherland — Bob Carroll | Harold Lang — Shine