Max J.Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky for Amicus
directed by Freddie Francis
starring Jack Palance, Burgess Meredith, Beverly Adams, Barbara Ewing, Michael Bryant, Peter Cushing, John Standing, Robert Hutton, John Phillips, Michael Ripper, Bernard Kay, Catherine Finn, Maurice Denham, Ursula Howells, David Bauer, Niall MacGinnis, Nicole Shelby, Roy Stevens, Norman Claridge, Geoffrey Wallace, Clytie Jessop, Timothy Bateson, Roy Godfrey, James Copeland, Barry Low, Hedger Wallace, Michael Hawkins
written by Robert Bloch, music by Don Banks, James Bernard, conducted by Philip Martell
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At a carneval, five strangers visit Doctor Diabolo's (Burgess Meredith)
Torture Garden and four of them get their (rather violent) future
foretold by one of his dummies (Clytie Jessop):
- Colin (Michael Bryant) is so hell-bent on getting his hands on the
fortune of his old uncle (Maurice Denham) that he kills the man - then
though he has to learn that the uncle's fortune was provided by his
cat (!) that forced him to kill - and ultimately, the cat sees to it
that Colin gets behind bars where it kills him.
- Carla (Beverly Adams) steals a date from her roommate (Nicole
Shelby), only to eventually end up with legendary filmstar Bruce
Benton (Robert Hutton), who has not aged a day in the last 20 years.
He provides her with a movie role, but then is killed by a couple of
gangsters - yet on the next day of shooting, he returns to the set as
if nothing has happened. When Carla investigates further, she finds
out that Bruce is actually not a real, living man anymore, but some
sort of metal man (which is why he doesn't age), and to keep her from
bklowing the whistle on him, he turns her into a metal woman as well.
- Dorothy (Barbara Ewing) falls in love with pianist Leo (John
Standing) - much to the dismay of his piano, which eventually kills
- Poe-fanatic Wyatt (Jack Palance) finds original Poe-manuscripts in
the possession of collector Canning (Peter Cushing) that were written
about a century after Poe's death - and thus he murders Canning to
uncover the mystery behind the new manuscripts - and finds Edgar Allan
Poe (Hedger Wallace) himself hidden away in Canning's basement thanks
to a Satanic spell - and somehow, Poe tricks Wyatt into taking over
the curse from him - and subsequently dying in a fire.
The fifth visitor of Doctor Diabolo does not want to see his future and
rather kills the Doctor - but that was just fake to make sure the others
leave. But only because he fakes his own death in each show does not mean
Doctor Diabolo isn't really the devil ...
This is by no means a perfect film, especially the writing by overrated
Robert Bloch is terribly uneven and at times ridiculous here, but a first
class cast and Freddie Francis' dependably light-footed directorial effort
make this one worth watching anyways. No classic perhaps, but good-natured
old-fashioned fun nevertheless.
review © by Mike Haberfelner
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