Among the heirs, a loony, a villain, a suicide back from the sea in a way.

Pining sister and faux brother make for other locales, villain and victim are expunged in flames.



“Some idiot neurotic teenager” whose mother went balmy with a knife has it, locked in the asylum as well.

It comes true by way of another murder, a contrivance.

The contrivers begin to collapse, and this is a very grand thing.

Neither Variety nor Time Out Film Guide could see its way clear to wholehearted admiration, whilst confiding nonetheless to the record a sense of the film’s virtues, its stark staring madness admirably contained.

Excellent score, of course.


The Evil of Frankenstein

Metropolis is the key of the laboratory scene, which is treated as a flashback of the first monster’s creation. The secondary note is from Fleischer’s dialogue of Barabbas and Lazarus.

The Baron returns to Karlstaad and the Chateau Frankenstein. There is unmistakably a remembrance of the Nazi terror in all this, Prof. Zoltan the funfair hypnotist brings the brain-damaged monster back to consciousness for punitive raids on the town and the sacking of its church, a sideline to the Baron’s pure researches.

In fact, the last line is recalled in Pinter’s screenplay for The Quiller Memorandum, “we got them beat.”

This is the frozen monster of Neill’s Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.


Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors

That is, Dr. Schreck’s pack of tarot cards, which reveal the supernatural destinies of men.

Five men in a railway carriage of the London-Bradley Express.

The architect who brews up an alteration of the family manse without considering the werewolf-widow.

The homeowner plagued by sentient vegetation.

The jazz trumpeter who lifts a voodoo dance tune in vain.

The art critic who murders a painter in blindness.

The doctor whose wife is a vampire.

The train overturns on the question of Appearance and Reality, leaving all five in the dark.

Francis’ cinematographic skill is everywhere in evidence.



The structure is as beautiful as one of those chess problems with a “dual key” and an impossible position redeemed by a false move. Howard Thompson was as bored as a spectator could be, his New York Times review blames Francis.

The double shift occurs naturally, exposition (amnesia victim) and explanation (murder plot). The fake occurs after a delayed flashback (French whore, English twit, and then tacitly the driver’s widow).

In this flashback is an impressive antecedent of Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces finale.

A spacious new penthouse high above Richmond Court with a vertical view of the striped parking lot, all paid for, and monogrammed shirts and a gold watch, you’d have to be crazy...


The Skull

The phrenologist, the collector, the merchant, and the demonologist each possess it in turn. Only the collector does not deny its living force, and he alone does not die.

It belongs, this particular metaphor, to the Marquis de Sade.

A very abstruse, difficult analysis of a well-known problem.


The Psychopath

A peculiar conceit forms the basis of this film, German estates falsely seized by an Allied War Crimes Commission on a charge of slave labor.

Twenty years later, the commissioners are murdered one by one, each found with a likeness of himself beside the body, a doll.

Mrs. Von Sturm, invalid widow of the man who hanged himself after his condemnation for profit, keeps a house full of dolls, her children, she calls them.

Her grown son Mark is a night watchman at a boatmakers’ and shipfitters’, small boats are suspended from the high ceiling of the factory where he listens to music and ogles pretty girls in the magazines, there is a fine memory of Welles’ The Stranger in this scene.

The daughter of an ailing commissioner has an American fiancé, “an impoverished medical student”, whom she is forbidden to marry.


The Deadly Bees

Not Hitchcock’s The Birds but Yarbrough’s The Devil Bat is the major influence (though The Birds appear in the television scene).

Howard Thompson especially thought this was Hitchcock manqué, and even the score displeased him, a typically fine score adding immeasurably to the conduct of the piece as in all of Francis’ films.


They Came from Beyond Space

This is how you get from Quatermass 2 to the Man who fell to Earth, with a coefficient of James Bond material and The Monitors.

A major analysis, an important work of British science fiction. The ending is most significant, it simply undoes the earthly possession by alien beings and then shakes hands on the matter. “I’m Arnold Grey,” says the erstwhile Master of the Moon.

The two prongs of the crisis are a building program undertaken by scientists investigating a shower of meteorites falling in formation, and a sudden outbreak of “crimson” or “scarlet” plague, a previously unknown fatal malady.


Torture Garden

Four tales of secret evil, with a quintessence.

The man who loses his head to do in Uncle (The Little Foxes).

The starlet who loses her humanity to make it big (The Girl with the Golden Breasts).

The journalist who tries to separate man and muse (The Alien Corn).

The collector who tries to wield Edgar Allan Poe (The Fall of the Louse of Usher).

Finally, the angry customer who seems to have slain the proprietor of this carny attraction, Dr. Diablo.


Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

“A clean, well-lighted place,” with no tricks up its sleeve, only abysmal horrors and archetypal struggles.

It might as well be a silent film, as it’s entirely made of discrete images one after another in a most telling way, with not a frame wasted.

The opening is a good example, although any sequence will serve. The boy sexton goes to ring the church bell, but sees blood dripping from above. His screams bring the village priest, who cautiously climbs to the tower, where he sees blood on the bell. As he approaches, a woman’s bloody shoe drops from it, then a dead woman hung from the heels where the clapper should be, with two puncture wounds in her neck (see also Poe’s “A Predicament”).

The monsignor arrives, and together he and the priest go up to the castle of the Count, who is believed in the village to be dead. As the monsignor performs an exorcism and places a golden crucifix athwart the door, the priest stumbles and falls down a ravine, coming to a stop beside the glass-topped coffin of Dracula. As the priest lies bleeding and unconscious, some of his blood drips down through the glass he’s broken in his fall, and into Dracula’s mouth. The Count arises, and bears down upon his victim.

The acting is precise. Veronica Carlson’s angelic performance, walking along the rooftops to rescue her lover from a barmaid’s clutches, is quite proficient.

The Count is finally impaled on that same golden crucifix, and thrashes about wildly trying to extricate himself, before expiring.

Francis’ cool control of this is exemplary, and there’s Marion Mathie, familiar as Mrs. Rumpole.



It is called a black comedy in some of the reviews, but it is much more a constellation. Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly is the British title, there are the guests as well, Soldier early on, also the man in No. 2, and “new friend” (with his late girlfriend).

The happy family has its many rules and codes and games and jingles, that is the veneer of lunacy on the whole business. A psychological statuary, a precise garden patrolled by Sonny in Red Indian war paint while Mumsy and Nanny and Girly vie for supremacy.

The drama in itself is only a matter of sidereal configurations, the one only, but it takes some little time to unfold properly.



University spelunkers, policemen and a telly crew give birth to the missing link. Dr. Brockton (Joan Crawford) rears it “like a fiend hid in a cloud”, the town’s housing-project pusher (Michael Gough) wants it destroyed.

There is the dramatic impetus, enough to state the basic themes. The troglodyte has memories of dinosaurs scurrying and fighting, a volcanic catastrophe, an ice age.

The troglodyte perishes, but not from the general run of mankind nor from the species of film critics, who never have gleaned an ounce of sense from this film.


Tales from the Crypt

The damned are sent to hell with a reading of sentences.

The wife who murders her husband for the assurance.

The husband who leaves home with a mistress.

The heartless young bastard who drives a man to suicide across the street.

The businessman likewise with embalming fluid in his veins.

The Army major detailed to a home for the blind he administers like a sybaritic Spartan.

The film is exceptionally beautiful throughout in its cinematography. Canby thought “style” meant that they should all triumph, or at least win sympathy, in the end.


The Creeping Flesh

“Shall these bones live?” Dr. Emmanuel Hildern (Peter Cushing), the anthropologist, says no. His half-brother James (Christopher Lee), who treats mental disorders, brings it about that they shall.

A masterpiece of great device and cunning, largely founded on Kenton’s House of Dracula.


Son of Dracula

Baron Frankenstein (Freddie Jones) is now a Harley Street physician delighted with the world’s progress.

One of Francis’ best scores (by Paul Buckmaster) is adorned with droll songs by Nilsson, who plays the title character, Count Downe, a vampire born not made.

The point is to decide which of the two shall be King of the Netherworld.

The Baron has a portrait of the Kaiser in his surgery. The Count has a pining to be a man.

Nosferatu, the Wolf Man, the monster, the Mummy and many others figure in the plot.

The astrological fortunes of the great event are studied in vast detail by Merlin, a pointy-hatted white-bearded bespectacled longhaired boffin (Ringo Starr).

Jenny Runacre is a charming widow, Dennis Price is Van Helsing, Suzanna Leigh his assistant, loved by the Count.

Van Helsing and the Baron each propose an operation to make the Count human.