Doctor Terror's House Of Horrors  [DVD]
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Freddie Francis directs this cult horror tale starring Peter Cushing as the mysterious Dr Schreck. Aboard a train, Dr Schreck offers to tell his five fellow passengers their fortunes using his 'House of Horrors' tarot cards. His deadly tales include werewolves, vampires, voodoo and a severed hand. But who is this sinister doctor and where exactly is the train heading?
Brand new Limited numbered edition release of 4,000 with specially commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys. Includes a brand new making of Dr Terror documentary by Nucleus Films and a recently filmed appreciation of the life and career of the late Sir Christopher Lee. --Dark Side --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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The first in the profitable series of `portmanteau' chillers from Amicus (a rival production company to Hammer, mainly notable for soft-pedalling on the sex and gore content that Hammer usually tried to forefront), 1965's Dr. Terror's House of Horrors is a reasonably well put together effort, with efficient if unremarkable direction from Freddie Francis and reliable performances from the main stars; however, the film's storyline is almost stiflingly arthritic (the script was, as usual for Amicus, by producer Milton Subotsky), combining five tedious `horror movie 1:1' vignettes with a predictable framing story. Of all the episodes, that in which Lee is tormented by Michael Gough's severed hand is the only one that really holds the attention, primarily due to the game characterisation of Lee at his most irritable, but the story itself is hokey at best. Given no opportunity to show the gift for creating off-the-wall characters that he would shortly display with his star-making contributions to The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, and Kelly's Heroes, Sutherland is saddled with the most boring episode, which unfortunately also comes last in the running order. Castle's vignette is played mostly for laughs (as you would expect - after all, it showcases Roy Castle), Freeman's story is stupidly illogical, and McCallum's episode, though reasonably atmospheric, is nothing more than a twenty-minute riff on the Universal Wolf Man flicks of the 1940s. To be honest, the best reason I can give you for seeing this film is easy to sum up in just two words - Peter Cushing. As the unshaven Dr. Schreck, with his rag-and-bone man's wardrobe and soft German accent, he (admittedly) has the showiest role in the film, and he makes the most of it in his typically effortless style. But Cushing's creepy turn aside, this is a timid film (even for the mid 1960s - note the current 'PG' certificate), that does not represent either the best of British horror movies, nor of Amicus' beloved `portmanteau' format.
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