Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors

The Skeletal Spotlight shines this time on:
"Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" poster
(Click all images for larger versions.)

Had the title been more accurate it would have been "Dr. Terror's
Train of Horrors" but it would have lacked the alliterative punch.

Here it is, folks... the first in the long line of Amicus horror anthologies. Released in 1965 and directed by veteran horror film director Freddie Francis, written by Milton Subotsky and starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, it set the tone for nearly a decade's worth of awesome Amicus anthologies.

Inspired by the 1945 film "Dead of Night," Milton Subotsky patterned "Dr. Terror's House of Horrors" on that portmanteau format. When his film was a big hit, he stuck to that format for the rest of the series: "Torture Garden" in 1967, "The House That Dripped Blood" in 1970, my personal favorite "Asylum" in 1972, "Tales from the Crypt" in 1972, "The Vault of Horror" in1973, "From Beyond the Grave" in 1973 and "Tales That Witness Madness" in 1974.

Dr. Terror has the last laugh on his doomed traveling companions. But, at least he kept them entertained, long train trips can be murder.

After Amicus founders Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg went their separate ways, Subotsky was still active in the early 80s, producing yet another anthology "The Monster Club," directed by Roy Ward Baker, veteran of several Amicus efforts. So I really consider that film to be a part of the group of films.

If you'd ever heard that Kenny Rogers song you'd know it was time to run.

Synopsis: 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 ancestoral home to find a werewolf out for revenge; a doctor discovers his new wife is a vampire; a huge plant takes over a house; a musician gets involved with voodoo; an art critic is pursued by a disembodied hand.

Since this blog is mainly devoted to the image of the scary skull as used in horror movie posters, etc., I won't try to review it... also for the simple reason that I have not yet seen it, although I'm familiar with the stories from various sources. I look forward to the DVD release and viewing it for the first time. I am enjoying the US releases of the Amicus films as they come out, for I am finally getting a chance to see and enjoy these films I have read about since I was a kid.

To stop his wife from maxing out the credit card, Donald was forced to take drastic measures.

Here are some poster variations to feast your worm-eaten eyes upon!

"Frenzied Fright! Screaming Nightmare! Freezing Terror!" And Horrifying Hyperbole!

"I actually do have a house of horrors... but it wasn't in the cards that you should see it."

"Not only do the cards predict your future, but they can
help you clean your teeth when you don't have time to floss."

Newspaper insert that tried to look like an actual article.

Cover to the paperback novelization of the film.

SEE! Really crappy artwork ! The poster for the 1943 spook show that claimed the title first.

The title had been used before for a traveling roadshow (not a movie, as I had thought before knowledgeable blogger Karswell corrected me) making the rounds in 1943, in which a live host known only as Doctor Terror recounts seven stories from his casebook of personal encounters with evil and the supernatural. The blurb reads "For the first time on any screen!" However, the stories which he introduces and then shows on the screen, are only segments of reused footage from such films as Carl Dreyer's Vampyr, White Zombie, The Scotland Yard Mystery, Le Golem, and the serial The Return of Chandu. Talk about a ripoff. A crummy clip show.


Karswell said...

Another one of my favorite Amicus films. Be nice if it ever came out on DVD though!

About the '43 "film" Fred, this was more likely a traveling spookshow with a live host on stage merely showing random movie clips and stuff. File it under:

Fred said...


Thanks for the tip! I couldn't tell that from my research, but since the poster itself says "A National Roadshow Release" I should have known. I'll update the post! Your knowledge is awesome.

Karswell said...

Elementary Dear Fredson, elementary! Calling the production a "rip off" may also be a bit harsh as all of these old traveling spookshows used this approach with random clips and/or full length films, plus all the added fun of staged magic tricks, monster costumed actors running around in the audience, spooky live music, stuff like that. You weren't just paying for some clips from old movies but the whole horror show experience.