From the video case: London is fear struck, and Scotland Yard is baffled by a series of strange murders that have plagued the city. Stories of the atrocities, by crime journalist Edmond Bankcroft (Michael Gough), come to their own conclusions missed by the “Yard.” This is because of the fact that Edmond is behind these horrible crimes in order to create material for his writing. Along with his assistant, Rick (Graham Curnow) who helps him run a private “Black Museum” filled with murder and torture devices. (1959,color)
Mark says: This film features the amazing gimmick of Hypno Vista, a technique which “actually puts you in the picture.” Ok, so maybe it’s not that amazing, and maybe it doesn’t really put you into the picture, but it is a bit of fun. What Hypno Vista is exactly, is a psychologist (Emile Franchel) who, at the beginning of the movie, gives a lecture on the power of suggestion. Then, before the film starts, he “hypnotizes” you so you feel the full shock and terror of the picture.
Hypno Vista doesn’t work, of course, but it does provide some amusement. Unfortunately, it is not entertaining enough, and it lasts too long, to withstand repeated viewings. You’ll most likely fast forward through this section of the film after watching it once or twice.
The movie itself is a ridiculous contrivance, but very watchable and entertaining. The opening scene where Dorinda Stevens gets her eyes gouged out by a pair of nefariously rigged binoculars is the spectacle most people remember, but there are other memorable murders portrayed, as well. I won’t ruin the suspense for you, though.
As in the later film, Konga, it is primarily Michael Gough who makes the movie worthwhile. He’s a fantastic bad guy, full of arrogance and cold-blooded self-righteousness. He has no qualms about having people killed to advance his career and ego. If I ever do a dramatic reading (and I have no idea as to why I would) I would use Mr. Gough’s tirade on evil and the unreliability of women from this film as my piece. It’s so incredibly over-the-top.
Also of some note is June Cunningham, who plays Michael Gough’s paid lover, Joan Berkley. She has some great lines in the scene where they are haggling over money, and her dance routine has to be seen to be believed. I am constantly reminded of the line from a Beatles’ song, “You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer,” as I watch her cut a rug.
Other players are Graham Curnow as Mr. Bancroft’s assistant, Rick, and Shirley Anne Field, who plays Rick’s fiancée, Angela Banks. Mr. Curnow plays a significant role in the movie, but Shirley Anne Field is little more than window dressing.
Scene to watch for: Beware the man with the portable guillotine.
Line to listen for: “One must never place any trust in a woman. It was no secret that Satan was able to tempt Eve before Adam.”
Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ½ out of 5.