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The Terror
Lady of the Shadows / The Castle of Terror / The Haunting

USA 1963
produced by
Roger Corman, Harvey Jacobson (executive), Francis Ford Coppola (associate) for Filmgroup/AIP
directed by Roger Corman, Francis Ford Coppola, Monte Hellman, Jack Hill, Jack Nicholson
starring Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, Dick Miller, Dorothy Neumann, Jonathan Haze, Rick Dean
written by Leo Gordon, Jack Hill, music by Ronald Stein

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The early 1800s: A French officer, André (Jack Nicholson) has lost his regiment somewhere in the middle of nowhere (but at the coast) but has stumbled into young Helene (Sandra Knight), a girl he almost immediately falls in love with, but who disappears into the sea before his very ees, and when he tries to go after her, he is attacked by a bird and almost killed.

Later, he wakes up in the hut of an old hag, Katrina (Dorothy Neumann), who quite simply denies the existence of the girl. However, a villager, Gustav (Jonathan Haze) directs him to the castle of Baron von Leppe (Boris Karloff) to find some answers and maybe the girl ... but all André really finds at the Baron's place is a mystery that somehow involves the girl - only the girl is not called Helene here but Ilsa, the Baron's wife whom he killed 20 years ago when he found her with another man, Erik. But for the last two years now, the Baron has been seeing Ilsa's ghost, and it's only now that someone else, André, can see her too.

Stefan (Dick Miller), the Baron's servant grows suspicious about the whole affair, and soon he stumbles upon the ghost and finds out she's a mere girl from the village who has been mesmerized by the old hag Katrina to play an evil trick on the Baron. André and Stefan now try to find out the truth, and learn that Katrina is actually the mother of Erik, the man the Baron is supposed to have killed - but this isn't so, actually it was the Baron who was killed in the first place, and Erik has merely taken over his place, and, so it would seem, also his personality ...

Finding that out, Katrina now goes up in flames, while back at the castle, the mesmerized Helene already tries to persuade the Baron to kill himself - by flooding her crypt. It is only when the Baron opens her coffin and finds her rotting corpse that he realizes he has been had ... but by that time, flooding of the crypt has already begun, and Helene, now totally convinced she is the spirit of Ilsa, violently keeps him from closing the floodgates again. Soon, Stefan arrives at the scene and tries to help the Baron, but by that time it's already hopeless. When André arrives, all he can do actually is to save poor Helene's life, but later, when they are both safe and in each other's arms, she starts to decay - could it be she was dead Ilsa after all ?

 


Basically, The Terror is a quicky shot by five different directors (of whom only Roger Corman is mentioned in the on-screen credits) on the locations of Corman's earlier The Raven and The Haunted Palace - just to make sure these sets do not remain underused. It seems though that nobody really believed in the film, at least the number of five different directors for a simple formula movie would suggest that, and it's true, the screenplay is underdeveloped and features way too many plotholes plus no really strong characters (that the characters somehow come across anyhow is mainly due to a small ensemble of strong performers, first and foremost of course Karloff, Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller). What saves this movie though (to a certain extent at least) is its moody sets (even if they are recylced) and atmospheric direction that does not betray the presence of five directors.

So if you are looking for an intelligently scripted shocker, don't even consider watching this one, but if you are content with creepyness and eerieness, this one might be just for you.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD