On the docket for tonight was another Vincent Price film, this time featuring his horror pals Peter Cushing and Robert Quary. Now, it’s no secret that Price is my all-time favorite actor, but I hadn’t heard of this film until just a couple days ago – then again the guy appeared in more the 175 films and television shows. I’m bound to miss a few here and there. Anyway, I was excited to jump on this film, especially after hearing it was on of Price’s last collaboration with American International Pictures. This film is also of note due to the nature of the character that Price plays, something very different than his normal fare.
Paul Toombes (Price) is Dr. Death – a famous horror icon celebrating his latest film and his engagement to a pretty little lady. At the party, Toombes discovers that his fiancé has a sordid past thanks to a porn producer’s (Quary) tip. Moments later someone dressed as Dr. Death introduces the business end of a blade into the neck of the little lady. Toombes is suspected of the murder, life imitating art, but never proven guilty. Fast forward a whole bunch of years – Toombes remained inactive in the film world – he is offered a chance to reprise his iconic horror role in the form of a TV show. Of course, his old best friend/writer, Peter Cushing, and the producer (he graduated from porn to television) are there to help.
There’s just one catch. Every time a clip is shown from a Dr. Death film is shown (a considerable amount of the movie is taken up with watching clips) someone is offed by a real life Dr. Death. Toombes, who blacks out an awful lot, assumes he is the killer. Note (Spoiler): The film is billed as a twist ending, which ends up being rather stupid and unbelievable.
The gore is mostly weak sauce, with most deaths occurring off camera. The plot is rather convoluted and kinda boring. Watching piles upon piles of clips from a fake movie while Price pretends to black out is just not that exciting, believe it or not. The film suffers from some pacing issues and some random characters that are exceedingly dumb. My favorite being Cushing’s wife, whose back story involves losing her hair in an accident, becoming obsessed with spiders and living in the basement for years and years. What? She makes no sense. But at least she used to be pretty.
Even though Madhouse isn’t very good there is something soothing and right about it. Maybe it’s the combo of Cushing and Price showcasing their skills together. Or Price’s silky smooth voice.
No matter what, fans of Price will enjoy his conflicted character and the bevy of death fodder in the way of hotties. Not the greatest, but not the worst. This one also qualifies as a film that has almost nothing to do with its title and, as you may know, I have a soft spot for films that purposely try and confuse audiences with dumb titles. I mean, really, what was wrong with “Dr. Death” as the title?
Snore Factor: ZZZ