BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Gothic horror gets its kink on in 1962’s The Horrible Dr. Hichcock. This is one of the movies that you really have to wonder how in the hell it got made. Like ever. Like ever ever. Directed by Riccardo Freda (working as Robert Hampton), the Italian director responsible for The Ghost and the interestingly titled The Iguana With the Tongue of Fire proves that even necrophiliacs need a hug.
This fucked up tale of necrophilia and drug-induced passions re-awakens its groove right between actress Maria Teresa Vianello’s ample breasts. She’s just lovely and – between all the heavy fog, the moody red lighting of the shoot, and the heavy shadows – she becomes the sole objet in one man’s quest to “pump” life back into a rotting corpse. First, he must bless her cleavage by burying his head between them. The good doctor has his priorities.
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock is a classic mad scientist tale, except here – inside a very creepy mansion with long, flowing drapes and empty rooms better left locked – one scientist is driven to bring his dearly departed lover back from the dead…with the blood of his new wife. How’s that for a honeymoon, baby? Rescued from the vaults of time by Olive Films, this lavish production makes its debut on blu-ray this week. It has not been restored. Sad but true.
Unfortunately, due to heavy print damage, censored edits, a tonal music score that needs some fixing, and a lack of supplemental material, it won’t be the final word in this strange tale. Hey, at least the movie is now back in circulation, right? Right. Let’s move on because the flick – as easy as it would be to dismiss it – is actually quite suspenseful and absolutely drips with menacing atmosphere.
It’s never made clear if Cynthia (Barbara Steele) regrets her decision in marrying the good doctor still stuck on his long dead wife but she sure is trapped inside a living hell because of it. A scream is heard when she enters the mansion. He candelabra is blown out by an invisible female spirit and, in a very terrifying sequence, a female warns her that to sleep is to die. But of course it is because her husband likes to drug his women – almost to the point of death – and then have his way with them.
When they talk about great love stories, the romance of Professor Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) and Margaretha (Vianello) ought to be included. According to this flick, necrophiliacs need love too and that’s exactly what this film is: a demented love song to a necrophiliac. Full of scratching noises in the wall, door handles that turn of their own accord, rooms that should never be opened, and a huge secret that involves the good doctor’s true passions, this movie – while effective – is one hell of a sick puppy when analyzed.
Hichcock is convinced he can bring back his old wife. He’s especially more convinced when he mistakes Cynthia for her at the grand piano. And then there is the mysterious blonde female seen in the garden. Who the hell is she? Even Cynthia is convinced that there’s something amiss in the Hichcock home. And she’s right. She begins to act upon it, though, when it is already too late.
European horror has a way of earning points even when the flaws are obvious. Freda’s film is a classic example. It doesn’t dwell on much for long, but it is so well-dressed for the occasion to haunt our subconscious that it actually pulls off a great deal. We just have let it soak in for a bit.
Thanks to Flemyng’s performance and the moral grey strokes he paints, we have a very good reason to dwell upon the movie. Unfortunately, Steele – who can be quite good – has little to do here except run through long underground tunnels. She might have done better with a little more direction, but what’s required is just not there from the film’s director. He’s good at providing the much-needed atmosphere but fails to deliver on so much of everything else.
Get buried alive by love with The Horrible Dr. Hichcock. Add it to your catacomb collection, just don’t talk about it outside of certain circles. I think it’s illegal in most states.
MPAA Rating: Not rated.
Runtime: 77 mins
Director: Robert Hampton
Writer: Julyan Perry
Cast: Barbara Steele, Robert Flemyng, Silvano Tranquilli
Tagline: His secret was a coffin named DESIRE!
Memorable Movie Quote: "Doesn't it seem strange for the doctor to bury his wife in his laboratory."
Distributor: Sigma III Corp.
Release Date: December 2, 1964
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 13, 2016
Synopsis: From director Robert Hampton (Lust of the Vampire) comes The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock, the twisted and terrifying tale of Dr. Bernard Hitchcock whose secret desired and perverse passions lead to the death of his wife, Margaret.
Available on Blu-ray - September 13, 2016
Distributor: Olive Films
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles: Optional English subtitles.
Discs: Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A
Olive Films presents The Horrible Dr. Hichcock on 1080p with mixed results. The whole color canvas is splotched with reddish brown tones and a blurriness that is not ever addressed. Part of this is the design of the production and part of this is due to the condition of the print used for the transfer. Not everything is going to get restored and the transfer itself is problematic. The mono sound is appropriate but – due to the print damage – any time the notes are sustained there's a warbling noise that is noticeable.