Horrors of the Black Museum 1959
Horrors of the Black Museum is a 1959 British-American horror film directed by Arthur Crabtree (Fiend Without a Face 1958). Filmed in Hypno-Vista and introduced by the ‘renowned hypnotist Emil Franchell, Horrors of the Black Museum was the first American International release to be in both color and CinemaScope. It is notable for its focus on gruesome crimes and a macabre museum of murder weapons.
The story revolves around a series of heinous crimes particularly against women in London that involve bizarre and deadly murder methods. A Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Lodge (John Warwick), becomes involved in the investigation and discovers a common thread among the crimes—the victims all have a connection to a small, private museum known as the “Black Museum.”
The museum, run by Edmund Bancroft (Michael Gough), is dedicated to showcasing murder weapons and instruments used in famous and infamous crimes throughout history. A frustrated writer of crime thrillers wants accurate crimes for his next book so he hypnotizes his assistant to make him commit the required crimes.
As Inspector Lodge delves deeper into the investigation, he begins to suspect that Bancroft may have a more sinister role in the recent murders. The cast includes June Cunningham as Joan Berkley, Shirley Anne Field as Angela Banks, Dorinda Steves as Gail Dunlop, Graham Curnow as Rick, and Geoffrey Keen as Supt. Graham. It was the last screen appearance of British actress Beatrice Varley in the role of Aggie. The scene with the binoculars still gives me the willies!
Hand of Death 1962
Hand of Death is a 1962 American science fiction horror film directed by Gene Nelson.
John Agar stars as Alex Marsh has created a serum combining a hypnotic drug and nerve gas. Unfortunately spills the formula, breathing the vapors and getting some on his hands causing the drug to transform him into a murderous monster. The film co-stars Paula Raymond as Carol Wilson. The little boy playing by the beach is Butch Patrick, who two years later was cast as Eddie Munster on “The Munsters.”
The Horror of Frankenstein 1970
The Horror of Frankenstein is a 1970 British horror film produced by Hammer Film Productions, and directed by Jimmy Sangster.
Essentially a remake of The Curse of Frankenstein 1957, Sangster infused this film with a dose of black comedy. A gory reimagining of the Frankenstein mythos with Ralph Bates as the overly dour mad scientist. The film includes Hammer’s incessant provocation to highlight their scream queen’s grandiose cleavage, in this case, Kate O’Mara who plays the conniving housekeeper, and Veronica Carlson as Elizabeth Heiss, Victor’s fiancée. The monster who is merely a killing machine is played by Dave Prowse who certainly has the presence to pull it off, having revised the incarnation of the monster in the superior Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell in 1974. The fabulous Dennis Price plays a merry body snatcher, Jon Finch as the unrelenting police lieutenant.
House of Dark Shadows 1970
House of Dark Shadows is a 1970 American horror film directed by Dan Curtis. It is based on the popular Gothic soap opera “Dark Shadows” and serves as a feature-length adaptation of the television series, and faithfully carries the torch of its television legacy.
The story centers on Barnabas Collins (played by the mesmerizing Jonathan Frid), a 175-year-old vampire who was inadvertently released from his tomb in the 20th century. Upon his return to Collinwood, the ancestral home of the Collins family, Barnabas becomes embroiled in the lives of his distant relatives, who are unaware of his supernatural nature.
As Barnabas tries to adjust to the modern era, he becomes entangled in a web of dark family secrets, hidden agendas, and forbidden love. His presence at Collinwood unleashes a series of tragic events, including a deadly romantic entanglement with Maggie Evans (played by Kathryn Leigh Scott), who bears a striking resemblance to his lost love from centuries past.
In the shadowy corridors of House of Dark Shadows, a spectral tale unfolds, woven from the threads of a timeless Gothic tapestry. This cinematic masterpiece breathes life into the beloved Dark Shadows television series, where secrets, passions, and the supernatural converge in an intoxicating dance of darkness and light. Amidst the opulent backdrop of Collinwood, forbidden romances blossom like fragile night-blooming flowers. The delicate beauty of Maggie Evans, an unwitting doppelgänger of Barnabas’ lost love, becomes the centerpiece of a love story that transcends time.
We step into the ancestral mansion shrouded in whispers of the past, where the enigmatic Barnabas Collins, emerges like a nocturnal monarch from a sepulchral slumber. A vampire of centuries, Barnabas is both cursed and captivating, his brooding presence casting an eerie allure over a family unaware of the malevolent forces that have entered their lives.
House of Dark Shadows expertly blends elements of Gothic horror, melodrama, and supernatural intrigue. It caters to fans of the “Dark Shadows” TV series while delivering a suspenseful and atmospheric horror experience for a broader audience. The film explores themes of the eternal struggle between darkness and humanity in the context of a vampire’s tormented existence.
This cinematic odyssey draws inspiration from its television progenitor, ‘Dark Shadows,’ a groundbreaking show that dared to blend melodrama, mystique, and the supernatural soap opera featuring complex characters, and mysterious plotlines, offering a lavish and suspenseful tribute to a realm where the boundaries between the living and the undead blur, and where the eternal struggle between light and shadow ask the question, is redemption possible.
Horror Express 1972
Horror Express is a 1972 British-Spanish horror film directed by Eugenio Martín (It Happened at Nightmare Inn 1973). This horror/sci-fi hybrid is set in 1906 and revolves around a suspenseful and supernatural mystery that unfolds aboard the Trans-Siberian Express, a train traveling from China to Moscow.
The story begins when Professor Sir Alexander Saxton, portrayed by Christopher Lee, a British archaeologist, and scientist makes a remarkable discovery in 1906 during the turn of the century: a prehistoric humanoid fossil of an Ape/extraterrestrial lifeforce in China frozen in a block of ice. He decides to transport the mysterious specimen and smuggle it back to Europe on the Trans-Siberian Express embarking on a journey across snow-covered landscapes from Shanghai to Moscow. However, as the train makes its way through the frozen Russian landscape, strange and terrifying events start to occur.
A fellow scientist, Dr. Wells, played by Peter Cushing, resorts to bribery to secure train tickets, persuades a baggage handler to investigate Professor Saxton’s discovery and has a very assertive female assistant. He becomes intrigued by the frozen remains of the fossil and decides to examine it. To their horror, they realize that the creature is not dead but in a state of suspended animation. Furthermore, the fossil is capable of absorbing the knowledge and memories of those who come into contact with it.
As passengers on the train begin to die under mysterious circumstances, it becomes clear that an ancient and malevolent force has been awakened. The professors must work together to confront a supernatural threat that defies explanation, all while dealing with the growing paranoia and fear among the train’s passengers. There’s chaos when the creature escapes from the box, sucking the minds out of its victims, ending in the heart-pounding spectacle as the reanimated bloody-eyed undead attack the rest of the passengers as they hurtle towards a cliff. The film features impressive makeup by Fernando Florido and a cranked-up score by John Cacavas (Airport ’75).
Horror Express is known for its atmospheric shivers and the chemistry between Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, titans of the institution that is Hammer and two legends of the horror genre. The eerie setting of the Trans-Siberian Express adds to the overall suspense, creating a claustrophobic and chilling atmosphere as the characters battle a force beyond their comprehension. Horror Express also co-stars Rasputin-like Father Pujardov Alberto de Mendoza, Telly Savalas as the hostile cossack Capt. Kazan, Silvia Tortosa as Countess Irina and Julio Pena as Inspector Mirov and Helga Liné as Natasha.
Peter Cushing arrived in Spain for filming and immediately told producer Bernard Gordon that he could not do the picture, as he felt it was too soon after his wife’s death. Christopher Lee convinced Cushing to stay on by reminiscing with him about the previous movies they’d worked on together, much to the relief of Gordon.
In an episode of Trailers from Hell 2007 who is a fan of the film, noted that the original American theatrical release prints were nigh-unwatchable, as they featured overly-dark color grading, as well as printed-in splices and damage. In his autobiography,Bernard Gordon noted that executive producer Benjamin Fisz sold the film’s US rights to Scotia International for $100,000, of which he received very little due to a tax deal that was in effect at the time. This left him and Gordon unable to pay back a $150,000 debt (equivalent to half the film’s budget) to a Spanish bank that had loaned the money to them, which resulted in the original camera negative being impounded. As a result, the US theatrical prints had to be struck from the film’s beaten-up workprint.
The film’s acclaimed musical score marks the debut of John Cacavas as a film composer, who broke into the film industry thanks to his friendship with telly Savalas . Cacavas would later create the music for Savalas’ TV series Kojak 1973.