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Gallery of Horrors

D: David L. Hewitt C: Lon Chaney, David Carradine, Rochelle Hudson

Being the worst horror movie of all time is quite a distinction, considering the competition, so naturally there are quite a few contenders to the title. PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE is a regular candidate, but I really can’t agree. Ed Wood’s films are amateurish, it’s true, but they are also enthusiastic and not without a certain primitive style of their own. In my opinion, cheaply made is not enough to qualify, the candidate must be glaringly inept, shorn of any saving graces such as the imaginative use of limited resources. After having reviewed in excess of 1,000 movies, I am happy to say that I may finally have discovered the Holy Grail of Schlock. I think it may be the Cinemascope. Not that there is anything wrong with that, only that in this case it mercilessly displays what is wrong with this picture, which means just about everything – after all, a badly lit set or inaudible dialogue can do wonders for a terrible movie. First, however, a word of warning: You may be tempted not to sit through all five stories of this anthology, but that would be sacrilege. Every single episode should be savored, also JOHN CARRADINE introducing each one in an ill-fitting tuxedo standing next to a color slide of the castle from THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM with interminable and completely irrelevant babble. The first “story” is about a couple moving into a castle in Massachusetts. It contains a clock cursed by a witch, so John hypnotizes the young wife, her husband informing him that he knows everything. He then proceeds to open the clock, causing the fall of the House of Usher. Yes, every scene involving anything but two people in a cardboard set is stock footage from some well-known CORMAN epic. What are the plots of the remaining instalments, you ask? Vampire kills policeman. Vampire kills wife. Monster kills scientist. Werewolf kills vampire. The performances – well – if you can imagine someone who has never been on a set in his life being told where to go, what to do, and to speak distinctly, you get the picture, and then, as the piece de resistance, Lon Chaney in a drunken stupor, who has forgotten to take his wristwatch off in 1850. It doesn’t much matter, since everything else on the set is unmistakably 1967. Occasionally, the screen goes red. Well, those are the special effects. Apparently, the cinematographer placed his camera in a position roughly overlooking the set and went to lunch (rumor has it that he was unconscious). Close-ups would entail actually moving it, so that’s right out, consequently, we are constantly straining to see what is going on at the other end of the room, at the same time having the distinct impression that we’re not missing much. If this had been the first rehearsal of a school play, it would have been immediately abandoned. Thankfully it was not, because this one REALLY has to be seen to be believed!

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