Horrors of the Black Museum (1959) | Michael Gough lets rip in a sado-voyeuristic thriller that still chills

Horrors of the Black MuseumSEE! The Fantastic Binocular Murder!
SEE! The Vat of Death!

A series of macabre murders leaves Scotland Yard baffled, but gives crippled crime writer Edward Bancroft (Michael Gough) great copy for a sensation-hungry public. But what is not known is that Bancroft is actually hypnotising his devoted assistant Rick (Graham Curnow) into carrying out the murders (mainly on the women who have humiliated him) using binoculars, equipped with spikes that go right into the victims’ eyes, a home-made guillotine, an acid vat and a pair of ice tongs. Bancroft then displays the murder weapons in his own private museum. But Rick finally turns on his master when he is ordered to kill the woman he loves (Shirley Anne Field).

Horrors in the Black Museum

It Actually Puts YOU In The Picture – Can You Stand It?
This unforgettable sick 1959 chiller was a box-office hit for Anglo-Amalgamated, and the first in their ‘Sadian’ trilogy (along with Circus of Horrors and Peeping Tom), in which the draw was sensational, sexually charged violence. The critics, however, saved their outrage for Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom (1960), whose take on similar sado-voyeuristic themes was a much more intelligent exercise.

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Saying that, Horrors of the Black Museum still has the power to shock, with Michael Gough giving a totally overwrought performance as the sexist sociopath (he’d go on to do a similar role in 1961’s Konga), and director Arthur Crabtree (who also lens the unforgettable 1958 sci-fi Fiend Without a Face) making effective use of the colour and widescreen format to bring the grisly Grand Guignol spectacle to life (in what would be his last feature before retiring). In the US, it was advertised as being filmed in HypnoVista, which referred to a 13-minute lecture prologue on hypnotism by psychiatrist Emile Franchel.

The 2013 Network Distributing Region 2 PAL DVD release features a brand-new transfer from original film elements in it’s as-exhibited 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, plus original theatrical trailers, image gallery and the US HypnoVista introduction.


About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 24, 2015, in British Film, Cult classic, Horror, Must See, Must-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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