A Victorian-age scientist returns to London with his paleontological bag-of-bones discovery from Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately, when exposed to water, flesh returns to the bones ... See full summary »
Christopher Lee stars in the Amicus production of "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" where the names have been changed to Dr. Marlowe and Mr. Blake. Lee as Dr. Marlowe experiments with intravenous ... See full summary »
Five strangers board a train and are joined by a mysterious fortune teller who offers to read their Tarot cards. Five separate stories unfold: An architect returns to his ancestral home to find a werewolf out for revenge; a doctor suspects his new wife is a vampire; an intelligent vine takes over a house; a jazz musician plagiarizes music from a voodoo ceremony; a pompous art critic is pursued by a disembodied hand. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
Five travellers on an overnight train are told their fortunes by a mysterious old man (Peter Cushing) who turns out to be... well, you'll see.
Formed in the early 1960's by American producers Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg as a response to various tax concessions which encouraged an upsurge in British movie-making, independent studio Amicus hit the ground running with this breezy horror anthology, directed by famed cinematographer Freddie Francis, in which several heavyweight thesps (including Christopher Lee and a very young Donald Sutherland, the latter a sop to US audiences) and a couple of notable UK media celebrities (entertainer Roy Castle, DJ Alan Freeman) meet grisly fates at the hands of various supernatural entities (werewolf, creeping vine, voodoo, disembodied hand and vampire, respectively).
Lavishly photographed by Alan Hume in widescreen Techniscope - Francis had, of course, learned a thing or two about widescreen composition during his work on SONS AND LOVERS (1960) and THE INNOCENTS (1961), amongst others! - this low budget thriller utilizes the same audience-friendly Gothic elements which launched Hammer to worldwide fame and fortune, but locates them within the recognizable boundaries of contemporary British society, an aspect which immediately distinguishes it from the Victorian milieu favored by rival studios. Francis clearly relishes the creative opportunities afforded by the material, and while the stories themselves - all originals, penned by Subotsky - are fairly bland and obvious, they're all energized by Francis' stylish visuals and helter-skelter pacing. Each story has its merits, but director and scriptwriter keep the best two for last: Lee's pompous art critic is haunted by the living severed hand of an artist (Michael Gough) he drove to suicide, and Sutherland discovers his new bride's (Jennifer Jayne) bloodthirsty secret, leading to a twist in the tale...
Lee gives the showiest performance, as a haughty member of the critical Establishment whose ego leads him on the path to self-destruction, but his fellow cast members all rise to the occasion, and Francis even manages to indulge Castle's famed jazz trumpeting abilities without holding up the plot! Cushing takes center stage, playing a character much older than his years, though he's rather let down by a fake German accent which sounds more comical than ominous; his timing, however, is impeccable, as always. Brisk, stylish and more than a little camp in places (watch out for that crawling hand!), the movie is a triumph for Francis and his technical team. Subotsky and Rosenberg were also responsible for John Llewellyn Moxey's moody witchcraft thriller THE CITY OF THE DEAD, produced in 1960 under the 'Vulcan' banner, but it was the creation of Amicus which firmly established their fortunes within the UK film industry (cf. TORTURE GARDEN, THE VAULT OF HORROR, etc.). Sadly, Francis became increasingly disillusioned by his status as a 'horror' director, and many of his later efforts suffered as a consequence of his apathy (THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE, TROG, CRAZE, etc.).
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