The Terror

July 31, 2017 at 12:29 am (5 Heads, Terror, The) (, , , , , , , , )

The Terror – 1963 – United States

1806: A French army officer named Andre is separated from his regiment. Wandering France’s coastal wilderness, he encounters a beautiful woman named Helene. She mysteriously vanishes and he scours the countryside for her. Entering an old witch’s secluded hut, Andre asks about Helene. The witch suspiciously denies the mysterious woman’s existence. Later, Andre comes upon the decrepit castle of Baron von Leppe. The melancholy baron knows of Helene and believes she is the ghost of his wife. He regretfully describes how he killed her after a jealous tiff twenty years ago. Andre, obsessed with Helene, refuses to believe she is dead. Despite the witch’s and baron’s efforts to stop him, he investigates further and uncovers the dark history of Castle von Leppe. By the film’s end, the castle is destroyed in a flood, the baron drowns, the witch is struck by lightning, and Helene’s face melts off.

The Terror is a gothic tale of melodrama and horror. It was produced, written, and directed by Roger Corman using sets from The Haunted Palace (1963) and The Raven (1963). At the same time, Corman was directing Edgar Allen Poe adaptations for American International Pictures. The Terror seems to channel Poe’s macabre romanticism. It’s a cheap, hastily-made film. The plot lacks logic, the pacing is dawdling, and there are hardly any effects. However, its mystery and gothic ambiance are engaging.

Corman regulars Jack Nicholson and Dick Miller are competent enough, but Boris Karloff steals the show (of course). Even while acting sinister, he is just so charming. Sometimes, I wish he was my dad. The Terror’s best asset is its atmospheric sets and locations. The baron’s cavernously empty castle reflects his cheerless life. There is also a foggy graveyard and ruggedly forlorn woods, hills, and beaches.

A falcon (also named Helene) eats a live mouse, which is gross but cool.

Rating: 5/10 Shrunken Heads. When the witch enters the holy grounds of a church, she is struck dead by lightning. That’s a pretty senseless act of violence, even for God.

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