21 October 2014

Chamber of Horrors (1966)
80 min.
Directed by Hy Averback.
With Patrick O’Neal, Cesare Danova, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Patrice Wymore, Laura Devon, Wayner Rogers, Suzy Parker, Jose Rene Ruiz, Philip Bourneuf, Marie Windsor.
Delicious fun.

A condemned man (Patrick O’Neal) cuts off his hand in order to escape a hanging, and then goes on a vengeful murder spree against those whom he thinks have wronged him.

Excellent film based on House of Wax, and originally made for television as a pilot for a proposed series. Unfortunately, the pilot was deemed too violent and was instead released to theatres.

O’Neal brings great zeal and positively chews up the scenery as Jason Cravette, the terrifyingly methodical killer. (A true handy man, he gleefully attaches knives, hooks, meat cleavers, etc. to his wooden stump in order to carry out his gruesome deeds.)

His performance is a deftly drawn portrait of sinister elegance. Hyde-Park and Danova are delightful as owners of a Baltimore wax museum that pays homage to bloody historical acts of the macabre, while pint-sized Rene Ruiz is great fun as their dwarf sidekick. Together, the three form a trio of very likable - and always bemused - amateur detectives.

Terrifically entertaining, this gem features Tony Curtis in a quick cameo…as well as gimmicky William Castle-like devices called the “Fear Flasher” and the “Horror Horn.” Hammer Studios aside, this is ‘60s Grand Guignol at its best.

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