Image Entertainment presents
Gallery of Horrors (Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors) (1966)
"Well, she's the thirteenth. Puncture wounds on the neck and left to the rats."- Inspector Marsh (Ron Brogan)
Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., John carradine, Rochelle Hudson
Other Stars: Roger Gentry, Ron Doyle, Karen Joy, Vic McGee, Ron Brogan, Margaret Moore, Mitch Evans
Director: David L. Hewitt
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence)
Run Time: 01h:22m:18s
Release Date: 2006-01-17
DVD ReviewOn occasion, a film producer will decide that a horror anthology is just the answer for avoiding complexity of character, and keeping the budget low by spending a lot of time on cheap exposition. Such fare tends to run the gamut from passable to pathetic, with this offering, better known as Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors leaning far more toward the latter end of the scale. Five stories, each introduced by a stentorian John Carradine next to a sloppy matte painting, cover a number of different familiar subgenres but fail to present anything resembling a chill.
The first tale, The Witches Clock (sic) features a young couple, Bob and Julie Farrell (Roger Gentry and Karen Joy) who move into a 16th-century New England castle that holds a witch-cursed grandfather clock in its dungeon. There are so many things wrong with the preceding sentence it's hard to know where to begin. Carradine also makes an appearance as an apparition from the past, a devotee of the witch who cursed the clock. Although he's hamming it up as usual, at least he's fairly enjoyable in a small part. This segment does have the one effective touch: the loud and ominous ticking of the clock as Carradine makes his appearances.
King Vampire is a Jack the Ripper type tale set in 1890s London, where a series of what seem to be vampire murders are taking place. Ron Doyle stars as detective Brenner, on the hunt for the killer, thwarted by a strangely uncooperative populace. The oddly named Monster Raid comes next, and features scientist Dr. Spalding (Doyle again), murdered by his assistant Dr. Sevard (Gentry). But the murderous injection is in fact a serum for immortality, and Spalding returns from the grave as a decomposed zombie. The makeup is decent enough, but don't expect any Romeroesque zombie feasting.
The final two tales work from classic (and thus royalty-free) novels. The Spark of Life is a Frankenstein story featuring Lon Chaney Jr. as Dr. Mendell, determined to test his theories that electricity can restore life to the dead. But his subject is an executed murderer who, when resuscitated, has a desire to continue his bloody work. The final story, Count Dracula, is pretty self-explanatory, and starts off as a straightforward retelling of the Stoker story (with Mitch Evans as the Count), but when a torch-bearing mob shows up at the castle, Harker (Gentry) is revealed to be a vampire hunter. Things take an odd turn with the final reveal, which comes out of nowhere but is reminiscent of a third-grade EC horror comic.
The compulsion to have little twists at the end of each story doesn't help matters, and they're uniformly lame. The script is awful, with unnatural lines delivered woodenly by an incompetent cast. Chaney offers a little boozy enthusiasm in his segment, but he's never convincing as either a scientist or as an obsessive. The utter cheapness of the production is emphasized by the laughable crowd scenes, which feature a handful of people and muttered sounds of the "rhubarbrhubarb" variety meant to suggest a much larger group than appears onscreen. Lines that are stumbled over remain in the film; apparently the budget did not permit retakes. There are few redeeming qualities, and the settings are completely devoid of atmosphere (often scenes take place in mostly empty or anonymous rooms). Gore is nonexistent, and there's little that could possibly offend outside of the very notion of witchcraft or vampirism. At most, kiddie fare for highly uncritical kiddies.
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D
|Aspect Ratio||2.35:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: On the positive side, the original widescreen 2.35:1 ratio is preserved, and color is fairly rich. Now for the negatives: it's presented in nonanamorphic widescreen, meaning a nasty lack of detail and and overly evident line structure. The source print has a fair amount of damage at the beginnings and ends of reels as well. This could have looked much, much better than it does with not a lot of effort.
Image Transfer Grade: C-
Audio Transfer Review: The audio is presented in 2.0, with most of the audio stuck in the center channel and seemingly replicated in the surrounds. It's an odd remix that doesn't add much. There is also a fair amount of hiss and crackle in the background throughout, but it's passable if not wide-ranging. The music is rather tinny and lacking in presence. Much of the dialogue sounds as if it were recorded in an echo chamber.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 7 cues and remote access
Extras Review: There are no extras, not even subtitles. Chaptering is thin, with one stop per story and one each for the opening and ending credits.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsInept from start to finish, it's for Chaney completists and the curious only. The print is in somewhat rough shape, and the nonanamorphic treatment doesn't help. But at least it's not in pan-and-scan format.
Mark Zimmer 2006-01-25