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Horrors of the Black Museum (1959).

February 5, 2008

The Scoop:
I love ’50s-era ballyhoo movie gimmicks, and this British production has one of the cheesiest — “Hypno-Vista.” The film starts with a way-too-long introduction by Emile Franchel, licensed hypnotist, trying to justify the validity of his quacky profession, and the story that follows is supposedly chock-full of “cues” to hypnotize the entire audience.

In a performance from early in his career, veteran character actor Michael Gough gives a passable performance as a hack columnist with a collection of torture devices, who tries to evade suspicion while a series of torture murders plagues London. Co-star June Cunningham tries hard to be the British Marilyn Monroe, but doesn’t even manage to be the British Mamie Van Doren. The other female lead (Shirley Ann Field) is gorgeous, but a terrible actress. And for some reason all the cross-fades have a red tint — I don’t know if this is part of the gimmick, or just a flaw in the print I’ve seen.

In all, it adds up to a muddled mess in what should have been a promising premise. “Horrors of the Black Museum” definitely misses the touch of William Castle, who could have done wonders with it.

Best Line:
“We can always count of London for another murder.”

Side Note:
Field was later a regular on the short-lived soap opera “Santa Barbara.”

Companion Viewing:
“The House on Haunted Hill” (1958).


Take a Look:
The trailer:

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