I finally made time to see the 1974 classic MADHOUSE recently. I tossed it one while working on a project thinking that it was going to be some fluffy, empty horror comedy. I'm not sure where I got that idea - it was far from comedy.
In this tale, we meet Paul Toombes (Vincent Price) - the actor behind the famous movie madman Dr. Death. Toombes created the character with his dear friend Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing) and movie after movie was made. However, after tragedy strikes Toombes, we're not sure if Dr. Death will return.
Enough said about the plot. We have PRICE and CUSHING together here! It's a fantastic pairing. Like wine and cheese or cookies and ice cream! :) The performances are fantastic and well worth a watch. The 70s film making could be tough for those who love today's BOURNE bouncing camera and rocket edits, but the charm and grace of this film made it for me. What we really have here is a who-done-it in a classic giallo style. We know something is amiss, but we're not sure what it is exactly.
The film does run off the rails a bit at the end. I found myself blinking at the screen and wondering what it was I just saw. However, I was so invested in the film and it's characters that this small plot swerve merely got a raised eyebrow and a audible "Huh?" out of me before I slipped right back into it's delicious, Hammer Horror-style glory.
If you're a Price fan, you'll love the use of many of his previous films as the films of Dr. Death. FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM and clips from many more Price classics are shown and it turns into a lovely homage to Price and his work.
The film is also Directed by Jim Clark. While this seems to be his biggest Director outing, he's been an editor on some major titles - The World is Not Enough, Marathon Man, Charade and The Killing Fields just to name a few. Nothing to shake a stick at, as they say.
All in all, you can't go wrong with MADHOUSE. Put it on one dark and rainy night, pour yourself a glass of wine, sit back and enjoy!
Available on NETFLIX streaming at the time of this post.