Saturday, October 19, 2002


With this movie, it seems like American International was trying to beat Hammer at their own game by producing a distinctly British horror film with a William Castle twist. It is in fact a notch above several Hammer (and AIP) productions of the time, but the parts are greater than the whole. Michael Gough (Alfred in the recent Batman movies) plays a crime reporter who is following the exploits of a killer who specializes in particularly bizarre methods of murder, including, in the classic opening scene, a pair of binoculars with needles that shoot through the victim's eyes to her brain. It's clear from early on that Gough himself is the killer, assisted by a young male assistant (Graham Curnow) who helps him with the upkeep of his "Black Museum," a place for the display of horrific murder and torture weapons. Gough uses a serum and hypnosis to turn Curnow into a Jekyll/Hyde monster who kills at Gough's bidding. The young man's face also becomes puffy and scarred, though it's never explained why. Other shock killings include electrocution, a guillotining in a bed, and a person dumped in a vat of acid, reduced quickly to just a skeleton. Shirley Ann Field, who played the unnerved actress in PEEPING TOM, is Curnow's girlfriend. The Castle touch is in the prologue, with a man supposedly trying to hypnotize the audience--it's sort of cheap fun, but has virtually nothing to do with the narrative. Overall, above average October fare.

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