Tuesday, February 12, 2013

MADHOUSE (1974) movie review

Madhouse (1974) d. Clark, Jim (UK)

Vincent Price takes center stage as a hammy horror star sidelined when someone lops off his fiancĂ©e’s head at a fancy dinner party (rude, that), resulting in a decade-long rest in the booby hatch. When sleazy producer Robert Quarry decides to resurrect Price’s “Dr. Death” character in a new series of films, the aging icon returns…only to encounter his cast and crew being mysteriously murdered one by one – with himself the prime suspect.

Director Clark struggles to find an appropriate tone, attempting to play the terror straight, then detouring into the campy macabre fun of the successful Phibes series. The result is a meandering, languorous and predictable programmer, mechanically punctuated by not-gory-enough set pieces.

While it’s a treat to see Price sharing screen time with Peter Cushing, their scenes are few and far between, with the real surprise Adrienne Corri’s go-for-broke performance as a faded starlet gone bananas – her scenes of dallying with tarantulas whilst fingering her pancaked features seem transported from another movie, one you may wish you were watching instead. With Linda Hayden.

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