September 12, 2016


Starring Barbara Steele, Robert Flemyng, Montgomery Glenn, Teresa Fitzgerald, Harriet White. Directed by Robert Hampton. (1964, 77 min).

Dr. Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) has been naughty indeed.

He's a brilliant surgeon in 19th Century London who's developed a revolutionary anesthetic that puts his patients to sleep for surgery. He's also a necrophiliac whose sex games with his beloved wife, Margaret (Teresa Fitzgerald), includes using the same stuff to make her appear dead. But he overdoses her one night and she kicks the bucket for real. Distraught, Hichcock leaves his mansion and doesn’t return for 12 years. He has a new wife now, Cynthia (Barbara Steele, who appears to have a biggest set of eyes on the planet), though he still longs for Margaret (I suppose anyone willing to play dead to please her man must be difficult to replace).

Meanwhile, there’s strange doings at the Hichcock estate. At night, Cynthia hears voices and sees a mysterious figure coming and going in the night (guess who?). Hichcock initially dismisses her claims until he sees Margaret himself, not quite as dead as everyone thought (but still pretty damn rotten). Now he wants Margaret back and hatches a twisted scheme to use Cynthia’s blood to restore her beauty.

Made in Italy in 1962 but released domestically in 1964, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock has earned minor cult classic status in some circles, likely due to the lurid premise and some unintentional campiness. But it’s nowhere near as twisted as its reputation suggests and will bore viewers weaned on such grotesquery as Re-Animator and Nekromantik. Hichcock’s necrophilia is implied here (hey, it was the early 60s).

"Sorry, but this is going in the yard sale."

The entire film is actually a rather slow moving affair and feels longer than its scant 77 minute running time. Though it deserves some credit for being one of Italy’s earlier Gothic horror films (and Steele would star in a ton of 'em), it hasn’t aged as well as, say, Mario Bava’s Black Sunday. The performances aren’t particularly good and some of the dialogue is laughable. Even the more atmospheric moments are often undone by some glaring continuity errors and an overwrought film score.

Still, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock has its share of fans and this disc will definitely have some nostalgic importance to them. Others might enjoy some MST3K moments at its expense. By the way, despite rumors the film was edited to appease censors back in the day, in reality it was trimmed down to quicken the pace. Mission failed.


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