Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Day 86: Madhouse

Skipping forward in my Essential Horror book, I watched the 1974 Vincent Price/Peter Cushing joint called Madhouse. If ever a movie was meant to herald the retirement of its star, it is this one. Even though his last film wouldn't come until Edward Scissorhands, Vincent Price's storied career as a horror icon is reviewed and honored in this movie (even if the movie around these bits is kind of on the lame side).

Price stars as Peter Tooms, an actor who has portrayed the villainous Dr. Death (definitely based on Dr. Phibes) in a series of gory horror movies. As the film starts, Price has a spat with his fiance and she ends up decapitated. This leads to speculation that Price has gone insane. The movie picks up years later as Price is hired by a sleazy producer to make Dr. Death, the tv series, in London. Cushing is his long-time collaborator who hosts Price at his country manor and keeps a spider-last locked in his basement (long story). Once Price resumes playing Dr. Death, a bunch of murders start that are convenient for Price's career. So, once again, he is suspected. If you can't figure out the real killer just from reading this review, this movie might be too advanced for you.

The really interesting thing about this flick, to me, was seeing footage of older Price movies worked in. There are at least five instances where the narrative halts for someone to watch an old movie starring Price. I recognized The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven amongst the movies being reviewed. As a retrospective of Price's impact on horror, this movie succeeds pretty well. As a self-contained thriller, it falls short despite a genuinely creepy ending. If you like your horror with a slice of cheese, try this out.

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