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The main problem with this movie is simply that it's not always interesting enough. Jim Clark seems content to rely on Price's star power; which is often just about sufficient to see the film through, although sometimes it could have done with something else. Peter Cushing's role isn't too much more than a cameo appearance - but it is nice to see these two great actors on screen together. As you might expect, Vincent Price slots into his self-replicating role nicely, and he seems to enjoy playing it. The story doesn't have much depth, however, and while the murder sequences are interesting and see things such as a woman being skewered with a rake and someone being crushed by an automated special effect bed. The script doesn't give much allowance for red herrings and through the one or two that there are; you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to spot which one it is. The film attempts a double twist ending, and while it plays out nicely; both are highly predictable and derivative of other movies that have carried off the same twists to better effect. But even so, you can always count on Price movies for entertainment; and this is entertaining despite its shortfalls.
Price plays Horror actor Paul Toombes, who is most famous for playing the role of a villain named "Dr. Death". When his fiancée gets killed, Toombes falls in a state of shock and becomes insane. After treatment and several years without appearing in public, Toombes is invited by a sleazy producer (Robert Quarry) to reprise his role. He therefore comes to England where he is welcomed by his friend, fellow actor, and "Dr. Death" screenwriter Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing). However, soon after Toombes' appearance, a bizarre murder is committed, then followed by another, and corpses begin to pile up. Has Toombes gone mad and brought Dr. Death into real life? Or is there someone else behind the gruesome acts? "Madhouse" is, primarily, worth watching for its great cast. No Horror lover can allow himself or herself to miss a film starring Vincent Price AND Peter Cushing, and though this one is quite far from being among either man's best films, it is obvious that the two Horror deities had great fun making this film. One of my main complaints about "Madhouse" is that Cushing should have had more screen time. The rest of the cast is also very good, Robert Quarry ("Dr. Phibes Rises Again") fits very well in his role of the sleazy producer. The female cast includes Adrienne Corri (who is probably best known as the rape victim in Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange", and who had previously been in "Vampire Circus" of 1972, which is my choice for the greatest Hammer film) as well as the beautiful young Linda Hayden ("Taste The Blood of Dracula").
As mentioned above, the film is a nice homage to Price's earlier career, and features parts of Roger Corman's Poe films, which mark the highlights of Price's impressive career. This film being co-produced by AIP, which produced the Poe films, allowed the film to include actual sequences from these films (the other production company involved were the British Anthology Horror specialists from Amicus). Some of the films featured in this one are "House of Usher" (1960), "Pit and the Pendulum" (1961), "The Haunted Palace" (1963), "Tales of Terror" (1962) and "The Raven" (1963). The sequences that are shown are all supposed to be scenes from the fictional 'Dr. Death' series. "Tales of Terror" and "The Raven" gave the producers the opportunity to credit Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone, even though they are only seen in archive footage. The film has a nice, morbid sense of humor that often resembles that of "Theater of Blood" and "Dr. Phibes". There is some light and amusing gore, and the killings are wonderfully macabre.
"Madhouse" isn't nearly the same quality as "Theater of Blood" or "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" and yet it is another delightfully macabre 70s Horror Comedy starring the most magnificently sinister actor who ever enriched the world of Horror. Vincent Price, we worship thee!
This is a great cast! Vincent Price as horror star Paul Toombes, Peter Cushing as his friend Herbert Flay. And even throw in Robert Quarry as Oliver Quayle. Cushing and Price alone sell a film, but Quarry (known to horror fans as Count Yorba) is a welcome addition.
This is probably the sexiest Price film. While he has had his share of female co-stars, and some of them even sort of foxy (see the Phibes films), here is the first time I know of where women are practically throwing themselves at him. Sure, he is past 60 at this point, but still a handsome man in his own right.
I also have to give credit to whoever joined Amicus and AIP together. AIP has consistently made Price a star in their films, and Amicus is a powerhouse in Britain (second only to Hammer). By combining them, that was a work of genius (and I presume why we see Cushing and Price share a screen).
Some critics have bashed the film saying "it could have been written during a lunch break", but I think it is a very touching homage to Price's career in horror, particularly with the showing of some of his past work. Howard Maxford hesitantly approves, saying it has "a fairly successful mixture of chills and humour." I concur.
There are, of course, other Price films to see first. But do not rule this one out -- it is better than some of his other work (I thought it easily topped "Cry of the Banshee") and a real treat to see him alongside Cushing. For as little exposure as this one gets, it is much better than you might think (though, the most overlooked Price film is still probably "Mad Magician").
I came across this rather unknown gem late one night while watching the horror channel and I must say that I rather enjoyed it. This movie stands as a fine example of the 60's and 70's features of it's time so I don't why this movie never gets mentioned or even recognised, as it's a fine form of slasher/thriller made movie with top notch acting from the likes of Vincent Price and Peter Cushing. the film is very striking, and looks very much like the other lush productions from this era.
The storyline is well crafted and keeps you interested throughout, the death scenes are also very elaborate and very violent, plus there are quite a few of them so that will keep the gore hounds happy. My only complaint is the so called shock twist ending, which wasn't really a shock at all, it was way too easy to see past the red herrings and the identity of the killer was pretty easy to figure out. But other than that this movie is on fine form.
The cast like I already said are top notch with great performances from legends such as Vincent Price and Peter Cushing who both add true layers to they're roles and are both greatly missed, as I've enjoyed watching they're horror movies growing up.
All in all "Madhouse" is an excellent horror movie which in a way ahead of it's time that oozes atmosphere and features a memorable character in Dr. Death.
Following the release of his latest horror film, actor Paul Toombes, (Vincent Price) announces his intention of retiring his famous character Dr. Death. After the death of his wife, he fulfills his retirement wish, only to be dragged out by producer Oliver Quayle, (Robert Quarry) and old friend Herbert Flay, (Peter Cushing) and the film is soon started. As the production begins, a masked killer starts to slaughter the various people associated with the project. Deciding to carry on, Paul and Oliver keep shooting the film despite the constant murders. Fearing that the creation has taken over his mind and forcing him to act out the vicious murders, he sets out to prove he isn't insane and as he gets closer and closer to the truth, the real discovery of the killer becomes known.
The Good News: There's a surprising lot to like in this film. The fact that this actually has some decent chase scenes is a real shock. There's really a decent amount of them included in the film and they're all quite thrilling to watch. The chase through the scenery in the gardens is a nice one, as is the showdown chase through the movie studios. It's a nice and really long scene that is thrilling to watch. The film's best qualities is that is mixes in traditional giallo aesthetics into a very campy Vincent Price-ish film and manages to pull them off. There's a black-gloved killer going on, stylishly killing off the various participants in a grand scheme that makes no sense, and the murder mystery is used to provide some suspense in the proceedings. It's all there and is included in the film and it fits right in. The sequence inside the pinball room is straight out of a giallo of the grandest order, full of swinging lights, hysterical screaming and the slow, suspenseful approach from the killer towards the victim. It's a marvelous scene that works wonders and is the movie's best scene. It's also got a couple of really nice kills in here, including a nifty decapitation, a sword impaled in the stomach, being crushed in a jerry-rigged movie stunt and a pitchfork through the neck, among others. It's also one of the best endings, which uses the double twist ending to a great effect and really ending on a great note. The inferno unleashed beforehand, where the first burns down the movie set and is captured on tape, leading to the first twist, is a real spectacle that is nevertheless impressive in the long list of films with that same kind of ending. This even features a really neat cast, including three genre regulars in scenery-chewing joy is a sight to behold. Really better than it should be.
The Bad News: There really isn't a whole lot wrong with the film. The biggest is that the film is set-up as a murder mystery, in typical giallo style, only for it to be painfully obvious who the killer is quite early on. That's not a real plus for the film, having the audience much farther along than the characters, and it doesn't generate that much suspense knowing that. The other main mistake is that the mask of the villain, though pretty creative, isn't that creepy. The mask looks overly plastic and doesn't inspire fear the way the great masks do. It's not bad, but there could've been a better mask available. The only other complaint against this is the campiness of the film. It's pretty much full of scenes that clash with each other, and the tones apparent aren't that easy to ignore. They're pretty blatant. This could've been a lot worse than what it is.
The Final Verdict: Mixing in the traditional giallo aesthetics with the campy fun of Price's later career makes this oddly likable, and really doesn't have a lot to dislike. It's a really entertaining film, and is a worthy recommendation for any fan of the three genre fans or of those interested in this time period.
Today's Rating-PG-13: Violence
However an on-form Robert Quarry, sleazy film producer extraordinaire, invites Toombes to make a come back in England in a Dr. Death t.v. series, and of course it's not long before the killings start again...
The Madhouse of the title is presumably the house where ol Pricey stays during his visit, namely because Cushing's wife lives in the basement with a bunch of spiders and is really quite barking. She still seems to fancy Toombes, though.
This is a strange but agreeable little film. Price is not really suited to the part of the cracked-up hero, but maybe he and Cushing exchanged their usual parts. Uncle Cush is brilliant, though -and just wait till you see the end - Price as Cushing as Price (work that one out!)It can be viewed as a forerunner to all those terrible slasher pics and although it's certainly not as good as Theatre Of Blood it does have something unique in cinema history to my knowledge.
Where else would you see a murder on the Michael Parkinson Show?!!!
There's nothing better than watching two stars, in this case horror stars grace the same screen. Very loosely based on Angus Hall's novel Devil day (1969) Madhouse is certainly of it's time (1974) which is a good thing, making it contemporary of that time and different to their older films. After parties, Cine films, film reels, film launches, tributes and the trappings of fame are on show indicative of film world at that time. Madhouse is wonderfully shot, rich in contrast, with excellent set design and locations. It exudes atmosphere in places and is genuinely creepy in spots, still it's an odd film, almost surreal in places, especially the scenes in the cellar and the body on the boat.
With a striking looking supporting cast both Vincent Price and Peter Cushing are excellent. Even though in their fermenting ages which is a shame, it's fitting to the story, and you can't help feel that there's irony baste over irony in Prices role of Paul Toombes, even maybe a hint of truth in the dialogue of his character. Mild-mannered Cushing as Herbert Flay unfortunately doesn't get as much screen-time as you'd like. This is certainly Price's show and he effortlessly captures the viewer with his immense presence and deep tones as much as he did 10 years earlier in The Last Man on Earth (1964).
Although reminiscent in feel of The House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973) it's my no means a 'classic' but there is enough killings, spiders, old horror clips, kooky cops and good performances to keep you watching veteran editor Jim Clark's (Charade (1963), Memphis Belle (1990)) last and only horror directing contribution.
All in all, Madhouse an intriguing must see for its possible comparable look at how much real life Price was injected into Dr. Death by Ken Levison in his screenplay.
Loosely based on the novel 'Deathday' by Angus Hall, the Jim Clark-directed movie cast him as horror movie star Paul Toombes ( great name! ). At a Hollywood bash to celebrate the release of his latest 'Dr.Death' movie, he announces his engagement to the lovely Ellen ( Julie Crosthwait ). Then a seedy producer named Oliver Quayle ( Robert Quarry ) tells him Ellen was once the star of his porn movies. Paul is furious, and after a row, she flees upstairs. A mysterious figure in a cloak enters the room. Some time later, Paul goes looking for her. He finds her sitting before a mirror. When he goes to touch her, her head falls off! Paul is blamed for her death, and sent to an institution. On release years later, he travels to England to star in a television series based on the 'Dr.Death' movies. The killings start up again. First to go is Liz ( Linda Hayden ), an aspiring actress keen to get into Paul's new series. So is he the killer? Or could it be someone else?
Similar to William Castle's 'Strait-Jacket' ( 1964 ), at no time does this come anywhere near the quality of 'Theater Of Blood'. In fact its a lot less gruesome than your average 'Hammer House Of Horror' episode, but worth watching because of Mad Vince and the great Peter Cushing as screenwriter 'Herbert Flay' with Adriennce Corri as his insane, spider-loving wife. Natasha Pyne was known for her role in the Patrick Cargill sitcom 'Father Dear Father'. Michael Parkinson puts in an appearance as a television interviewer ( which probably served him in good stead for his later skirmishes with Emu and Meg Ryan! ). Robert Quarry was 'Count Yorga' in two A.I.P. movies. Rather interestingly, Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff are credited even though the former died in 1966 and the latter in 1968. Toombes' career is illustrated using clips from old Price movies such as 'The Haunted Palace' and 'Tales Of Terror'.
The final twist is not particularly surprising. To tie-in with this movie's release, B.B.C.-1 ran a season of Price movies late on Friday nights, mostly drawn from Roger Corman's adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe. Cushing and Price would later reunite - with Christopher Lee - in 1983 for Pete Walker's 'Night Of The Long Shadows'.
Hammer Studios were shutting up shop, heading for a last ditch life-preserver in the form of the TV market before slipping off the radar. AIP and Amicus similarly sliding into a terminal decline. Explicit and pioneering movies such as The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, were leading the new wave. Directors such as Friedkin, Hooper, Carpenter, Cronenberg were soon to see their star in the ascendant. The days of plastic fangs, Max Factor blood, Gothic castles, garish Technicolour and a flash or two of heaving bosom, were gone forever.
MADHOUSE added a few melancholy notes to the swansong.
As the title suggests, it is indeed mad. And there's a house in it. It succeeds in being painfully camp, eccentric, hackneyed, desperate, confused and befuddled. The narrative has no internal logic and the characters who populate it are cardboard ciphers reciting awful dialogue and carving the ham as thick as you like. Yet...
Vincent Price and Peter Cushing always do their best to entertain and elevate the material they're given way beyond it's lowbrow standard of quality. Cushing, especially, always acts as if he's been given something of Shakespearean standards to deliver. Price, ever insightful, knows all about dross and attacks it as a matter of course with a sustained barrage of enthused overacting as he's fully aware that's his only way to slap some meaningful dynamic into it. It doesn't really salvage the film, granted, but both these men do what they can to give it some spark of life.
When I was a kid I loved this sort of stuff. Back then it seemed to add up better. Now, the nostalgia factor is the main draw. MADHOUSE is indeed one deranged film in that nothing works or makes any sense, so much so that the more absurd it gets the more surreal and curiously engaging it becomes. The idea is relatively sound: horror movie actor Paul Toombes (Price) is implicated in a grisly murder, has a mental breakdown and quits the screen. Years later, writer friend and colleague Herbert Flay (Cushing) entices him to England to revive his Dr Death character in a TV show. Then people start dying around him in gruesome ways and he becomes the main focus of suspicion.
The supporting cast are mostly cannon-fodder, window dressing waiting around to get bumped off. They might as well be china ducks in a fairground shooting gallery for all anyone cares about them. There's a crazy woman in the cellar looking after a menagerie of spiders, chat show host Michael Parkinson pops up to interview Toombes and there are lots of clips from earlier (much higher calibre) AIP horror flicks featuring Price. It meanders along in a haphazard fashion until it grinds to a halt with what was probably intended to be a creepy grand guignol conclusion that in fact leaves the viewer thinking "What?" Finally, if evidence was needed of the end of an era for a particular type of movie genre, MADHOUSE is a suitable citation for winding down. Despite everything, though, it still manages to be mildly diverting fun. But that's about as good as it gets.
This British film was a co-production between American International & Amicus starring two horror legends was made at a time when the quaint classic British Gothic horror film was on the decline soon to be replaced by shocking big budget Hollywood fare such as The Exorcist (1973), directed by Jim Clark I have to say I rather enjoyed this camp mix of horror & humour. The script by Ken Levison & Greg Morrison was very loosely based on the novel 'Devilday' by Angus Hall & doesn't seen to take itself too seriously, the basic murder mystery storyline is a little predictable & the killer's identity is too obvious but there's still much here to enjoy. The whole film within the filming of a film is always fun & Price's character being rude to the director & his co-stars raised a smile from me. The murders are alright & with Madhouse you can see that filmmakers were starting to push the boundaries of acceptability with scenes showing pitchforks through throats, decapitated heads & people impaled on swords, while relatively tame by todays standards this was probably quite strong stuff back in 1974, there is also the noticeable fact that most of the victims are young, pretty girls who would become the staple diet for any self respecting killer throughout the slasher craze during the 70's & 80's. The film moves along at a nice enough pace, the character's are good if a little clichéd & stereotypical while some of the dialogue is bizarre in a funny camp sort of way so I'll cut it some slack. Overall Madhouse is good, if undemanding, fun that I enjoyed despite the lacklustre comments from other's.
Director Clark does alright here, Madhouse looks nice enough without being particularly memorable. Price & Cushing seem to be having a blast here & even though Cushing doesn't feature too much at least they share a number of scenes together. There's some gore here although not too graphic, there's a decapitated head, someone gets a pitchfork stuck through their throat, someone is strangled & then hanged, someone is crushed, people are impaled on swords & there's a bloody skeleton at the end. There's a nice moment during a party scene when Quarry wears his costume from Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) & The Return of Count Yorga (1971) in which he played the title role while in a reversal of roles Cushing dresses up like Count Dracula even though he used to play Van Helsing in the Hammer studios Dracula series of films.
Technically the film is fine & looks OK, it has that 70's horror film feel & atmosphere to it which I've always been a big fan of. The acting is pretty good from a solid cast including Price who sings the awful closing song that plays over the end credits, Cushing, Quarry, Linda Hayden while Boris Karloff & Basil Rathbone both appear during clips taken from The Raven (1963) & Tales of Terror (1962) respectively. It was really odd to see Michael Parkinson in this, most won't know who he is but he's a talk-show legend here in the UK & still presents a weekly chat-show even now in 2007, he just looks a lot older.
Madhouse is a fun little horror flick, everyone is having fun including me which is the most important thing. I liked it a lot although many don't, if your a Brit horror, Price or Cushing fan then it's a must, if not then there's probably not much here in interest you. Definitely worth a watch in my opinion.
The teaming of two horror greats (Price & Cushing) and a semi-great (Robert Quarry) is a great idea. Sadly it doesn't work. Since it's an AIP pic it was made cheaply--and it shows. It's dully directed and it has an obvious, boring plot and a totally stupid twist at the end. Also I've never seen such boring murders in my life (it looks like a few of them were cut down to get a PG). And there's WAY too much footage from Price's earlier horror films.
Still, it's great to see Cushing, Price and Quarry all together. They give everything they have to the script. Price is great (as always); Quarry is amusing as a slimy producer; Cushing is criminally underused. There's also a very funny joke in a costume party segment--Quarry (who played Count Yorga, Vampire twice) and Cushing (always fighting vampires in Hammer films) come dressed as vampires!
So, it's almost worth seeing for those three. Almost.
**1/2 out of ****
The premise of a horror star (Paul Toombes-Price) who had a nervous breakdown years ago as a result of his new wife being murdered in a manner used by the character he played (Dr. Death) and brought out of retirement by his fellow actor (Herbert Flay- Cushing) only to find the man who revealed that his wife had been fooling around that night (Quayle-Quarry) is the producer of the new Dr. Death series was a good one.
(minor spoilers past this point)
That said it is obvious the scriptwriter and director were both lazy. The pace of the picture moves along with all the urgency of a turtle out for a walk. Worse yet when you find out who the killer really was there are murder scenes that make no sense as there appears to have been no way for the killer to know that these people were a threat to his plans. The cops are portrayed in a manner that implies they must have gotten their badges out of cereal boxes because their efforts to keep an eye on their main suspect is pathetic (like letting him out of their sight while he is in front of a live audience). Then there is the padding of the film with clips from several Price films as being from "Dr. Death" pictures even though the characters in those films (Pit and the Pendulum, Fall of House of Usher) look *nothing* like Dr. Death; not to mention that that the way they are shown they might have as well been edited in a cuisinart. Then to top it off in a picture that has had zilch in supernatural element suddenly shifts gears and throws one in the last 5 minutes.
Quarry appears so infrequently that he might as well been billed as a cameo, Cushing gets a little more screen time but not much more than Quarry, so it falls on Price to try and save this train wreck of a picture. He manages to keeping the movie from becoming totally pathetic but he even cannot overcome the total ineptitude of the scriptwriter or director. Good for Price fans but little else to recommend it.
This film, however, casts Vincent as Paul Toombes: a down-and-out horror icon whose haunted by the events of his past after his fiancé was murdered (after she was revealed to be a former adult film actress). This of course puts Paul in a bad mood and we get the moody, socially inept Vincent Price that no one wanted and nobody asked for. Adding to the body count of people murdered by the unexplained figure Doctor Death are Paul's liaison into the brave new world of television studios, a young actress who tries much to hard to get in bed with the uninterested Toombes, and her nagging parents who are so annoying that you'll jump up in jubilee when the mysterious murder skewers them in the most joyous of skewerings.
Only at the film's conclusion does it release Vincent Price from within the confines of Paul Toombes' moody self, end on a happy note that makes absolutely no sense but will ultimately leave you feeling good inside, even if it DOES make absolutely no sense.
Not the best of Vincent Price's films, but one that is no danger of being remade any time soon.