Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gallery of Horror

(David L. Hewitt, 1967)
Hewitt's trademark is vaulting ambition approached with the scantest possible means, and when he applies himself to a horror anthology format the result is gruesome and calamitous, and kind of fascinating for it. The first story relates to a bewitched grandfather clock and just about the whole damn thing is shot from a single camera setup. The second tackles vampirism, first from a police HQ with the unmistakable acoustics of an empty warehouse, then from a streetside crowd scene almost entirely composed of offscreen murmurs; the louts who do wander into frame offer the most fascinatingly various and mangled British accents on record. Volume three mainly features the rantings of a corpse over some looped footage borrowed from Roger Corman, to whose bountiful resources Hewitt can only aspire longingly, with the added bonus of Rochelle Hudson (James Dean's mom in Rebel Without a Cause!) playing one seriously antiquated love interest. Lon Chaney stumbles on set for part four, a Frankenstein variant whose loutish flatness does actually take on a certain lovable aspect in this company, especially the two guys pretending to be frat boys. Finally we return to the vampire theme in part five, accompanied by the dumbest twist ending of the lot, not to mention the most haphazard pan-and-scan job in a crowded field. Toastmaster John Carradine shows up once in a while and mumbles into his sleeve.

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