Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)
Although the stories may seem a bit simplistic and dated, this film has the distinct importance of being the first anthology film by Amicus Studios, a format that will become synonymous with the companies name for years to come.
The film opens with several strangers finding seats in a train car as the train idles at a station. Christopher Lee plays a skeptical businessman agitated with the commotion while trying to read the evening newspaper. Several men enter and take their seats, including a very young Donald Sutherland. The last seat in the car is filled by a barely recognizable, bearded and hat wearing, Peter Cushing. As the train departs, the bearded stranger begins to nod off and drops his suitcase, spilling tarot cards across the train car. When questioned, the doctor explains their purpose, much to the disgust of Lee’s character who calls him a charlatan. Nevertheless, Dr. Terror asks who wants to see their future and as each passenger takes a turn at the cards, we see their tales unfold. The werewolf story is well written, wrapped in mystery and family secrecy. Next, a killer plant surrounds the home of a young scientist. In the 3rd story, voodoo music is stolen by a young musician but the pilferage is avenged through magic. Next up, an art critic is stalked by an artist’s severed hand in the Christopher Lee segment. Lastly, a newlywed realizes he has married a vampire woman. The film also stars, Michael Gough a familiar name to horror fans as well as, Roy Castle, Alan Freeman, Peter Madden and Neil McCallum.
At the end Dr. Terror reveals his true self, a white skull and black cloaked, grim reaper. He informs the passengers that the tales told had already transpired, they are indeed dead and he was just here to collect them. So sets up the format for more than half a dozen Amicus Film anthologies that will follow, a familiar format that kept horror fans coming back for more.
The film was directed by Freddie Francis who did over 20 horror films during his career for both Amicus and Hammer Horror. Francis later took on the role of, ‘director of photography’ through the 80’s and 90’s, for such films as; The Elephant Man, Glory, Dune, The Man in the Moon, and Cape Fear (1991).
Amicus Films – The Studio that Dripped Blood