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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1965)

I was lured into watching this series of five horror vignettes because it starred Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Donald Sutherland.  The set up works rather well: five strangers share a train car when Dr. Schreck [a.ka. Dr. Terror] takes the sixth seat.  A conversation ensures about the supernatural with Franklyn Marsh [Christopher Lee] being the greatest skeptic.  Dr. Schreck pulls out his trusty deck of Tarot cards and proceeds to tell everyone's fate.  The stories that unfold involve werewolves, carnivorous plants, the supernatural, voodoo and vampires.  It is well acted with a cast of Brits that smells like a junior version of Hammer Horror.
Cushing is great at Dr. Shreck and his piercing eyes lend an ominous tone to the film.  Lee is also marvelous as the uber-skeptic who thinks he has life figured out.  It was also fun to watch Donald Sutherland as a young romantic who slowly begins to realize that his French wife is a blood sucking fiend.  Nice roles for all three of them.
The problem with this film for me was pacing.  While Dr. Terror is only 98 minutes long, it felt MUCH longer.  Each of the vignettes seems to drag a bit and could have used a little bit of editing to help pick up the pace.  Each is done with great care, it's just that they move so slowly that it's hard to build lots of suspense.  Furthermore, unlike other horror anthologies like Tales of Terror (1962) or Creepshow (1982) this collection takes itself way too seriously.  There are a few funny moments but not nearly enough to keep the audience interested.
There is nothing seriously wrong with Dr. Terror's House of Horrors.  I simply found it fairly uninteresting.  It's too bad, because the premise is great and I can only hope someone will attempt a remake of this one in the future.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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