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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Another Oddball Horror Combo From WB.Dec 15 2009
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Just a little over a year ago Warner Brothers, trying to compete with MGM/Fox's MIDNITE MOVIE series, began releasing a number of DVDs of Sci-Fi/Horror/Cult films from the 1950s and 60s. The Sci-Fi and the Cult Camp Classic series are still with us but the Horror Double Features consisting of only two releases has already been discontinued. The presentations are bare bones (not even chapters are included although there are subtitles) but the films are in good shape. I guess the sales must have been really abysmal to pull the plug so early but then whoever came up with the pairings for these discs should have put a little more effort into it. While IT! and THE SHUTTERED ROOM (the other release) at least share the connection that they are both British films, there is absolutely nothing linking CHAMBER OF HORRORS and BRIDES OF FU MANCHU other than the fact they were made in 1966.
CHAMBER was intended to be the pilot for a proposed TV series featuring Cesare Danova and Wilfred Hyde-White as Wax Museum owners who also solve bizarre crimes but the show never materialized. This accounts not only for the dramatic lack of on-screen violence throughout but the unusual ending where a girl is found murdered. Shown in theaters instead, the WB marketing department came up with the "Horror Horn" and the "Fear Flasher" as gimmicks to hook people in which it did as the film was successful at the box office but no sequels followed. Taken on its own merits as an unofficial remake of HOUSE OF WAX (it even uses the same sets), CHAMBER OF HORRORS is pretty good with atmospheric old style cinematography and a delightful turn from Patrick O'Neal as the demented killer building a corpse from parts of the people who sent him to prison. Scary?, hardly, but quite enjoyable nonetheless.
In contrast THE BRIDES OF FU MANCHU is a direct sequel to 1965's FACE OF FU MANCHU utilizing once again the talents of the dependable but underrated director Don Sharp and horrormeister Christopher Lee. This time though producer Harry Allan Towers cut the budget (Fullscreen instead of Widescreen and Eastmancolor instead of Technicolor) and it shows. Also gone is Nigel Green as Nayland Smith although Douglas Wilmer does an admirable job filling in. The story (written by Towers under his pseudonym of Peter Welbeck) has Fu Manchu kidnapping the daughters of famous scientists in order to coerce them into helping him build a death ray. It's really more of a thriller than a horror film but director Sharp does manage a few interesting set pieces and Lee does his best with the material. Not as good as CHAMBER but still entertaining, BRIDES really doesn't belong here and I wish WB had coupled it with the first FU film and found something else to put with CHAMBER.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1960's Horror Double FeatureDec 21 2008
The Movie Man
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"Chamber of Horrors" (1966) is reminiscent of the gimmick flicks of William Castle. Directed by Hy Averback (a TV director more at home helming such shows as "The Real McCoys" and "Burke's Law"), "Chamber of Horrors" features the in-film devices called the Fear Flasher and the Horror Horn to cue viewers to the terror to come. Despite these tricks, the film is an atmospheric thriller, lushly photographed in color. A condemned man (Patrick O'Neal) chops off his manacled hand to escape, then affixes assorted devices to his stump to chop, rip, and impale, and goes on a death spree. O'Neal makes a pretty good psychopathic killer. "The Brides of Fu Manchu" (1966) stars Christopher Lee as the Asian villain who kidnaps the daughters of the world's leading scientists. The ransom he demands is that they build for him a death ray, a weapon he will use to achieve his goal of world domination. Lee joins the ranks of the many non-Asian actors who have portrayed Asians on screen, as diverse a group as Boris Karloff, Fred Astaire, Cedric Hardwicke, Peter Lorre, and Warner Oland. Douglas Wilmer as Sir Dennis Nayland Smith, Fu Manchu's nemesis, doesn't make much of an impression with Lee's deadpan delivery and aura of evil taking center stage.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Long awaited arrivalDec 12 2007
Paul J. Moade
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After years of waiting, this cult favorite is finally (semi) available. Too bad it's not on DVD yet, but I'm hoping. *** 2008 Update. This film is now available on DVD ***
In brief the movie is about a man sentenced to hang for the murder of his fiancee`. After the murder, he marries the corpse holding the clergyman at gunpoint.
Demented? I'll say. After the trial, he is being transported by train to the prison. The guard handcuffs him to a brakewheel while he goes back for luggage. During this time the convict loosens the bolt holding the brakewheel, takes a fireax and jumps the train into the river ... where he escapes by cutting off his own hand with the ax. From there, the story centers around his revenge on those who sent him to prison vs the amatuer detective who tries to find out who is behind the latest seriel killings.
This is a semi-gothic horror show and is well done in spite of the melodrama. Some of the most interesting footage is of the wax museam, the chamber of horrors, at which Anthony Draco (the amatuer detective) works. It's a true mystery, although we as the audience know who the killer is. The sidelights of famous murderers of the past is as interesting as the psycotic man they are currently after. All in all a well done film themed in turn of the century Baltimore.
One of the unique features of this flick are the "horror horn" and the "fear flasher", which display and sound each time a grusome killing is about to take place. They are really superflueous though as no gore and little blood is shown in the picture. The most frightening thing about it is the soft-spoken killer who seems to strike out of nowhere and keeps eluding the police.
This film may not keep you glued to your seat in suspense, though I'll wager that you'll find it very entertaining and worth watching at least once.
Suitable for viewers age 8 and up (yes, I suppose a 7-year-old would be ok), this is a good cult classic which has been unavailable for much too long. Hopefully it will be on DVD soon.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
It's Worth A LookDec 19 2009
J. A. Retzer
- Published on Amazon.com
THIS REVIEW REFERS TO THE WARNER HOME VIDEO HORROR DOUBLE FEATURE DVD
As a previous reviewer noted, CHAMBER of HORRORS and BRIDES of FU MANCHU have nothing whatever to do with each other that the fact that they were both released by Warner Brothers in 1966. That aside, I picked this disc up for $3 in the discount bin at one of my local retail stores and bought it mainly for the chance to see Christpher Lee in a Fu Manchu picture (none of which I've ever seen).
Surpsisingly, CHAMBER of HORRORS with its lurid poster and gimmicky "Fear Flasher" and "Horror Horn" -to say nothing of William Conrad's voice of doom opening narration- turned out to be the better film overall.
The print used for CHAMBER is near pristine, razor sharp, with no appreciable scatches, splice or edits marks. Film grain is also minimal, even on an HD monitor. The audio is very clear, with a strong monaural track with minimal hiss and no appreciable pops or distortion (a plus if you really want to listen to William Lava's very good musical score).
Conversely, BRIDES appears to have been mastered from an older, theatrical print because the film grain is particularly eveident, the colors seem faded and there are very noticeable audio/video artifacts (pops, scratches, dust, ect.).
FYI: The disc has no special features -not even a trailer. Buy the disc for CHAMBER by itself at a good price and you can call BRIDES the special feature.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Return to the House of WaxJune 3 2010
Charles Justus Garard
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CHAMBER OF HORRORS is a fun film to watch again and again, not because it is great cinematic art but because it again takes us to the venerable House of Wax as visited in the Vincent Price 3-D thriller HOUSE OF WAX and the original MYSTERIES OF THE WAX MUSEUM. Again, we see the huge letters on the marquee of the commercial museum in turn-of-the-century Baltimore. What is missing, fortunately, is the paddle-ball wielding, attention-getting ballyhoo artist drawing crowds in front of the museum. (He is not unlike the young people today who stand in front of businesses in China, clapping their hands to draw the attention of those crowds passing by in the street.)
I am not a fan of the Fu Manchu series, even though I am a fan of Christopher Lee, so I merely consider the inclusion of BRIDES OF FU MANCHU as a bonus feature for those interested in that genre and series.
CHAMBER OF HORRORS is an interesting little mystery with interesting characters -- some of them like supermodel Suzy Parker and Laura Devon making for lovely eye candy. For the ladies, we have the handsome Cesare Danova and Patrick O'Neal as a Vincent Price-type villain. Wilfred Hyde-White is also on hand to lend a touch of British dignity to the proceedings. His distinctive and cultured delivery is always welcome in a film. This was, I have read, originally meant to be a TV series. Too bad it was not turned into a series that could today be run on cable TV. Also too bad is the inclusion of the dreadful gimmick called the Fear Flasher and Horror Horn. This was supposed to warn viewers of some shocking scene that was to follow. As it turns out, this is no Dario Argento film and the camera turns discretely away from anything gory and shocking -- probably because it was originally meant to be aired on network television. Eliminating the annoying gimmick would definitely improve the film and keep it in the realm of a mystery thriller. It is hardly, as the ads and the fright gimmick would suggest, a horror film.
In HOUSE OF WAX, the artist and owner of the museum is the demented villain who wants to staff his exhibit with wax-covered murdered humans. In CHAMBER OF HORRORS, the owners of the museum are the good guys -- amateur crime fighters who are not above gloating about their past successes. Cesare Danova is a charming, womanizing artist with impeccable manners and the ability to duke it out with the psycho killer Patrick O'Neal. Wilfred Hyde-White is a successful author of books on bizarre criminal cases. Also rounding out the cast is Tun Tun as an assistant in the museum who has "a nine-foot ego" to accompany his "three-foot" stature, according to the Wilfred Hyde-White character. The three make an incredibly likable trio of unlicensed detectives who are always willing to aid the reluctant police inspector. Wayne Rogers in his pre-MASH (the TV series) days appears as a personable Baltimore policeman who becomes an unfortunate victim of O'Neal's dapper but shadowy one-armed villain. Even Marie Windsor of the days of the Republic westerns appears as the madame of the "full house," as Tony Curtis calls it in his cameo appearance, and Jeanette Nolan joins the cast as a Baltimore blue-blood concerned about the negative reputation that her psychologically-challenged nephew is giving her family name. It is she who first enlists the aid of Wilfred Hyde-White and his associates at the museum in tracking down her relative who has the temerity to steal her jewelry and to insist on marrying the corpse of the faithless lady he has strangled with her own hair. Not a shabby collection of characters.
Does CHAMBER OF HORRORS equal the horrors of the 1953 HOUSE OF WAX? -- not really. However, it is enjoyable to see the same gothic set used again, particularly in such crisp Technicolor images. Patrick O'Neal is quite skilled at portraying a soft-spoken murderer whose elevator does not reach the top; he is no Vincent Price (who could be?), but he is a versatile actor with his own distinctive voice who was, perhaps, under-used on the big screen. He was equally skilled at playing good guys in such films as THE KREMLIN LETTER, ASSIGNMENT TO KILL, and the much-less-serious Euro-spy romp MATCHLESS.
As a period mystery, is it worthwhile enough. As a film offering us another look at the wax museum filled with horrible murderers and their victims, it is more than worthwhile.