TITLE: Horrors of the Black Museum
YEAR RELEASE: 1959
DIRECTOR: Arthur Crabtree
CAST: Michael Gough, June Cunningham, Graham Curnow, Shirley Anne Field
REVIEW BY SIMON BALL
When first released in 1959, Horrors of the Black Museum created an almighty stink with the British Board of Film Censors. Still reeling at the Kensington gore of Hammer’s Frankenstein and Dracula reboots within minutes of the film’s opening credits a young woman has put a pair of binoculars to her eyes without suspecting there’d be a pair spring loaded spikes concealed in the eyepieces.
In full lurid Eastmancolour crime writer Edmund Bancroft (Michael Gough) embarks on a murderous killing spree inspired by his personal ‘Black Museum’ of murder weapons concealed within his secret basement, a massive subterranean lair complete with a laboratory with death ray and a handy acid bath. It must have added thousands to the value of the house.
Gough presents his normal masterclass of barely concealed insanity as the deranged author who openly taunts Scotland Yard as just about every horror cliché gets thrown into the melting pot. There’s a Jekyll and Hyde potion that transforms his assistant into a hairy faced killer, some mind controlling hypnotism and a climatic shoot out at a creepy fun fair that owes a lot to the conclusion of King Kong, plus a lovely bit of drunken jazz dancing by a sinuous Julie Cunningham in a tight red dress.
As with many 50s cheapies this movie often groans with unintentionally funny dialogue and the special effects are a bit rubbish, but its still tremendous fun.
Horrors of the Black Museum has recently been released on DVD by Network as part of their British Film collection.