Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965)

First of the spate of British portmanteau horror films which sprung up in the 1960’s/early 70’s (there had of course been ‘Dead of Night’ much earlier).

Five men in a train carriage have their tarot cards read by the mysterious Dr Schreck, all concluding in the same manner – their death. Ranks above many of the similar films which followed by having classic horror themes in the stories – werewolves, voodoo, severed hand, killer plant and vampires. Film also has well above average cast and a tone which remains sombre right up to the bleak ending. That said we do have the one comic relief story, which as usual is by far the weakest – here we have Roy Castle as a jazz musician getting caught up in voodoo.

It is the framing story in these horror anthologies which often make or break the entire film, and in ‘Dr Terror’s ….’ it is excellent with Cushing having a real tone of menace as the quietly spoken, sinister Dr Schreck, as the action switches back to the increasingly claustrophobic train carriage.

At a time when Hammer’s standards were beginning to slip, Amicus provided an important rival which ensured the British horror output remained interesting and inventive for quite some time.