The year is 1885, and necrophiliac Dr. Hitchcock likes to drug his wife for sexual funeral games. One day he accidentally administers an overdose and kills her. He leaves his home shattered... See full summary »
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The year is 1885, and necrophiliac Dr. Hitchcock likes to drug his wife for sexual funeral games. One day he accidentally administers an overdose and kills her. He leaves his home shattered. Several years later he remarries and returns. Discovering that his still beloved first wife is alive but insane and prematurely aged, he plans to use the blood of his new bride to rejuvenate and heal her. Written by
Dean Harris <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE TERROR OF DR.HICHCOCK (L'ORRIBILE SEGRETO DEL DR.HICHCOCK is a masterpiece! It seems I have come to appreciate this picture more with each viewing. Whereas NIGHTMARE CASTLE is focused on generating an atmosphere of ugliness and treachery capped with a satisfying supernatural pay-off, HICHCOCK goes for more and immerses the viewer in a suffocating fog of loathsomeness and horror. Robert Flemyng as Bernard Hichcock is marvelous. He perfectly calibrates his performance so as to expose his character's slow descent into unbridled derangement. The film opens with Hichcock practicing necrophilia, but we soon see that the Doctor, while obviously demented, is quite capable of protecting the secret of his awful desires. But, as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that his abominable passions are slowly overtaking his intellect and his ability to maintain the appearance of normality. Much of the film's horror stems from this powerful presentation of the insidious and irresistibly intensifying nature of sexual psychosis. It also seems this film holds the ultimate moment of horror in Barbara Steele's exceptional career as a genre actress. The scene as her character, Cynthia, wakes from a drugged sleep is stunning. Cynthia finds herself strapped to a cot and watches as her husband materializes out of the darkness and menacingly advances upon her. To her full horror she stares wide-eyed as Hichcock's face distorts into a misshapen, glowing red mask of malignancy and evil. This magnificent shot was achieved with the use of surrealistic, nightmarish lighting and facial bladders attached to Flemyng's face, which, as they were slowly inflated, dreadfully perverted the actor's features.
One of the major contributing factors to this film's impact is the sumptuous score by Roman Vlad. Vlad produced a lush tapestry of fully-formed themes and motifs. Most noticeable is the superb piano concerto elegantly performed by Hichcock's first wife, the ill-fated Margherita Hichcock. Simultaneously beautiful and unsettling, I have no qualms about favorably comparing Vlad's fine effort with that other exalted "gothic horror film" composition for solo piano, James Bernard's Vampire Rhapsody from KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. Vlad also composed what I will call Hichcock's Theme; a superlative example of emblematic impressionism. The piece effectively advances a fresh orchestral paraphrase for things dark and depraved, and does so without being prosaic or overwrought. Oddly, Vlad refrained from employing any of these principal themes in the opening titles. THE TERROR OF DR.HICHCOCK is just as shocking today as it was 40 years ago. Don't miss it!
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