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This was a pilot for a period detective program from Warner Bros. entitled "House of Wax", padded out with various gimmicks including the red "fear flash" and "horror horn", several added sequences and guest stars with a larger screen in mind because it was considered too intense at that time for television. See more »
A thrilling film with occasional lapses in the writing...but it's still well worth seeing.
"Chamber of Horrors" sure reminds me of some of William Castle's films, as it begins with a prologue narrated by William Conrad. It explains how scary the film is but as a special service to the squeamish in the audience, a red light will flash and weird music will go off when one of four horrifying moments are about to begin! This is cheesy but also fills the movie with kitschy fun.
The film begins with a truly horrifying and wonderful scene in which a total psycho (Patrick O'Neal) forces a minister to marry him....to a dead woman!! The guy is 100% nuts but clever--and manages to elude the police for some times after this. Eventually, when he is captured, he manages to escape both times--and I won't go in to detail about it, but the second time is a doozy and everyone assumes he's dead! And, from here on, the film bears a lot of similarity to the wonderful film "House of Wax" (the Vincent Price version, not the new crappy one) as well as the Dr. Phibes films--some amazingly gory murders, all in the name of revenge. This portion of the film is pretty good, albeit a bit slow at times.
What intrigued me about this film was seeing Patrick O'Neal in a role totally unlike his other film and TV appearances. He was good, mind you--but NOT the typical sort of O'Neal! Also I appreciated that although the subject matter was grisly, it was not at all explicit--and the red flashing lights really weren't necessary. I am thrilled, as I think many horror films just go too far.
Overall, I liked this film very much--O'Neal's character was great and the story quite exciting. The only serious problems were the occasional bad writing, as intended victims just acted too dumb at times--such as the cop (Wayne Rogers) who chose to look for a serial killer out to kill him TOTALLY ALONE! When this character found O'Neal, instead of shooting him on sight, he allowed him to get close to him...too close. Another case of bad writing involved the assistant, Pepe, who hears a noise and TELLS NO ONE--going to investigate it himself!! Too dumb--and sad because otherwise it was a thrilling little movie.
By the way, the way the film ended it seemed apparent this was meant as either a TV pilot or the first in a series. Sadly, this was not to be.
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