On this day in 1965 [24th May]: Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors was released

The original poster for the 1965 movie

I have always loved Horror movies. There is nothing better than to hide your head behind the cinema seat as the chain holding a street sign breaks, causing it to swing down, instantly decapitating a minor character. As Alfred Hitchcock once said: “Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”

I like the visceral  feeling of fear, accompanied by the knowledge that nothing really bad can happen to you in a cinema, unless of course you were the characters in Scream II, slaughtered in the movie house whilst watching a dramatisation of Scream I… Mind you, I also derive pleasure watching those old, cheaply made British horror movies that never scared anyone. Movies like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors that was released on this day in 1965.

The Odeon South Harrow when it opened in 1933. i.e long before my time!

When it was first shown at my local cinema [the Odeon South Harrow], I didn’t get to see it because it was given an “X” rating, these days an “18”. I was ten at the time but my brother who was eighteen did. Grrr! I had to wait a few years, until it was shown on a late-night TV slot. When I eventually hunkered down in front of our black and white 18″ Sobel TV, I was ready to be terrified but in the end, didn’t even get a shiver down my spine. It was though fun watching Peter Cushing dealing the Tarot cards to the”stars” of the movie after which, he showing them their fates. These “stars” included club singer Roy Castle [who steals a tune from a VooDoo ceremony that causes havoc when he later plays it] and and DJ Alan “Fluff” Freeman [who finds a triffid-like killer-plant growing in his back garden].

Donald Sutherland and other members of the cast

A very young Donald Sutherland makes an appearance towards the end of the movie, playing a newly married husband who ends up murdering his bride. The “twist” in the tale of course, is that Dr. Terror is actually the angel of Death, taking them all to Hell…

Today, the movie has achieved “cult” status and is seen by horror movie cognoscenti as probably the best British horror movie ever made. I’m thinking though, that the bar was set pretty low to start with and actually, I prefer Shaun of the Dead.

The classic horror movie was produced not [as many people assume] by Hammer Horror but Amicus Productions, a British company set up by American producers and screenwriters Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg. Subotsky went of to produce the 1980 TV series The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and several movies based on Stephen King novels. Rosenberg went on the produce the 1968 movie of Harold Pinter’s play The Birthday Party, a very different type of horror movie…

Anyway, Happy 46th Happy Anniversary Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors, long may you continue to make us smile…

Here is a link to the movie: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdCNDb530h8&feature=related

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About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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