Movie Diary 6/13/2021

Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (Freddie Francis, 1965). Amicus omnibus (that’s fun) with five strangers sharing a train car, joined by a certain Dr. Schreck (Peter Cushing, in Eastern European eyebrows). He reads the Tarot of each man, which means we get stories about werewolves and vampires and voodoo and weird man-killing shrubs. Christopher Lee sits next to Cushing for the Tarot sequences and features in a story about a snobby art critic who ends up getting bothered by a disembodied hand. The stories are skeletal, to be sure – not much more than a premise and a grabby ending – but Francis does stylish things along the way, as befits an Oscar-winning cinematographer. Cast includes Donald Sutherland (not much to do, alas, despite being one of the trainmen), Michael Gough, Jeremy Kemp (he studies the mutant plant and utters, “A brain? I was right”), Max Adrian, and Roy Castle as a musician who gets supernaturally cancelled for indulging in cultural appropriation. (That’s the voodoo story.) The last few minutes – without giving anything away here – suggest that the Coen brothers saw this movie at a tender age and filed it away for future use. Oh, and the cast has two people who would be on the cover of “Band on the Run”: Lee and singer Kenny Lynch.

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