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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)
(2022 Reissue)


Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Max Adrian, Ann Bell, Peter Madden, Donald Sutherland and Roy Castle
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 05 December 2022

Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises releases the 1965 Amicus film Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors on Blu-ray. It stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Donald Sutherland, Roy Castle, Alan Freeman, Neil McCallum, Peter Madden, Ann Bell and Ursula Howells. The set includes All New Interviews with Kenny Lynch, Ann Bell and Jeremy Kemp, House of Cards documentary, Gallery of Images (courtesy of Stephen Jones), Original Theatrical Trailer, a Double-Sided Foldout Graham Humphreys Artwork Poster, and a 12-Sided Film Guide Booklet. Five men – strangers to each other – make themselves comfortable in a train carriage for an unknown journey. Before it leaves the station, there is a late arrival. A strange old man called Dr Shreck (the name was taken from Max Shreck, who played Nosferatu in 1922) takes his place among them. He appears to be a mystic, of sorts, and with an ancient deck of Tarot cards proceeds to reveal the dark fate of each of the men. It is a future they will come to wish had not been revealed...

Amicus made 16 horror films between 1965 and 1977, 7 of them being portmanteau movies (separate tales linked by a premise or theme). The first of these was Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, and whilst not being the best of this run, the release proved very popular to cinema-goers who hadn’t seen a film of this structure since the excellent Dead of Night in 1945. Hammer Films realised for the first time that they had competition, and were put out by the title, thereafter proclaiming on promotional posters that Hammer is the true House of Horror. In fact, the central set is within a cramped train carriage, adding to the claustrophobic atmosphere. There is no House of Horrors, aside from those houses seen in the segments when the characters’ stories are told.

There is a strong cast, with Christopher Lee shown as having star billing, the aforementioned names following and Peter Cushing’s name and character name appearing last. Many have seen this as a turning of the tides; Lee coming out from under Cushing’s shadow to snatch top billing, but this is merely an assumption. Always steadfastly reliable, Cushing’s performance was as good as any had been before, and was possibly Amicus’s way of leaving the best until last. The five futures entail an architect returning to his ancestral home to discover there is a werewolf at large; a man-eating vine takes over a house with a family within, in a Day of the Triffids-type tale; an art critic is terrorised by the disembodied hand of an artist he ridiculed (a la The Beast With Five Fingers); a doctor becomes convinced his beautiful new wife is a vampire; and a musician steals voodoo ritual music for his jazz band, with disastrous consequences. The musician was played with almost frantic positivity by Roy Castle (who remembers Record Breakers?), who took over the role at the last moment from Acker Bilk who suffered a heart attack. The jazz performance was by the Tubby Hayes Quintet with Kenny Lynch. Castle actually released the track as a 7” single at the time.

I have seen this movie a number of times over the years, and I can say it has lost none of its charm. The picture is crisp and the characters compelling – even if the subject matter was already established horror tropes (werewolves, vampires, zombies, etc.).


Ty Power

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