Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965, Freddie Francis)

Another horror anthology from the writer/director of Tales from the Crypt, this one with an even weaker framing story. But now it’s Peter Cushing’s turn to be the arch-villain (vith ze fake german accent), a psychic who predicts very specific supernatural deaths for everyone riding in his train car, including skeptic Christopher Lee.

First, Neil McCallum (of forgotten thriller Catacombs) is an architect who clumsily frees an evil werewolf from inside the walls of old Mrs. Biddulph’s home, faces the consequences.

In the silliest segment, Bill (BBC DJ Alan Freeman) brings home botanist Jeremy Kemp (of Blake Edwards’s Darling Lili) to examine his haunted vine. “A plant like that could take over the world,” Bill is told, before it kills them all.

Next, Roy Castle, who joined Cushing in a Dr. Who movie the same year, is musician Biff Bailey. He travels to the West Indies, disrespects voodoo rituals and makes a jazz arrangement of their sacred music, bringing vengeance in the form of a face-painted black man who appears in Biff’s apartment and murders him. Pretty much the same plot as the Papa Benjamin episode of Thriller a few years earlier.

Roy runs across the movie’s own poster:

For some reason the movie doesn’t save the skeptic’s episode for last. “I live by my vision,” says art critic Christopher Lee, so of course he is blinded in crash. But first, he has a cruel rivalry with painter Michael Gough (The Horse’s Mouth), crushes Gough’s hand in a hit-and-run, then after Gough kills himself the hand follows Lee, causing the blinding crash. At least it’s more eventful than the haunted vine.

Finally young doctor Donald Sutherland (in only his second real film role) brings home new wife Nicole (Jennifer Jayne of MST3K-bait The Crawling Eye). Max Adrian (Delius in Delius) is the only other doctor in town, suspects that the blood-drinking bat-morphing Nicole might be a vampire, convinces Donald to kill her with a stake. Twist: Max Adrian is a vampire using Donald to eliminate his competition, as Donald is carted off to jail.

But wait – they were dead all along!

But wait – if that’s true, what was the point of all the stories? Each passenger, even skeptic Christopher Lee, queasily accepted his own ludicrous tale of future demise, never interjecting “oh I doubt a vine is going to kill my whole family” or “but I’ve never even been to the West Indies,” or “then I won’t dig the werewolf casket out of the lady’s wall, so now do I get to live?” The tales are assumed to take place in the future, since on the train Lee is not blind, and Donald is not in jail. Then they’re all supposedly killed in a train accident, so either Dr. Terror was completely fucking with them or else he was holding them captive with his stories in order that they would die – but without the stories, where else would they have gone? All I’m saying is that Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors might contain some inconsistencies.

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