Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Madhouse

The Midnight Hour is Close at Hand with Alan Trehern

You know the guy who played Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars?  Sorry, you don't know what I'm talking about.  I mean the really old guy on the Death Star who insists that there is no chance the Rebels will be able to blow it up, and then they do?  Yeah, that guy.  No, not Darth Vader.  Man, you're bad at this game...

Madhouse (1974)
Directed by Jim Clark
Starring Vincent Price, Peter Cushing and Natasha Pyne

Well, Tarkin was played by Peter Cushing, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors to watch in pretty much anything from the middle of last century, especially in the horror/suspense department.  Guy can act.  Sure, he's dead now, but when you've been a fan of the character of Tarkin for so long, not knowing that there are a myriad of roles equally as enjoyable, finding these movies is pretty awesome.

Story
Madhouse stars Cushing as the best friend of Paul Toombes (Price), an actor who has popularized the film character Dr. Death.  After the mysterious "death" of his financ√©, Paul disappears from the public eye, only to reluctantly make a comeback on a television show based on the Dr. Death character.

Thoughts
The audience immediately knows what is going on: someone is murdering people in the fashion of the Death films, and there's a slew of characters the movie wants you to suspect.  It's fairly easy to guess who is behind all the madness, and I feel the transparency of that answer is one of this film's downsides.  Other than that particular critique, I really enjoyed the ambiance of this movie.
I dare say, I am chilled to the "bone"?
The film carried the grittiness and look so commonly associated with cinema in the 1970s, and although very British, the film provides pretty good suspense and violence.  Proving more a "murder mystery" than an actual "horror" movie, it's well-paced, intriguing and well-acted.  Music is used sparsely throughout the film, with some dramatic scenes having only environmental noises, but music didn't really present itself as a real character, like in other movies.

Price, in film, usually portrays the creepy mastermind or the villain that organizes the strife within the plot-line.  Here, though, he's on the other side of the tale as the mentally wavering protagonist, and although you may be certain he is not responsible for the killing spree, there's that little voice in your head that keeps saying, "This is guy is about to crack and people gone get got!"
You look ridiculous!  Now pour me a brandy...
In conclusion, another great suspenseful pick that I feel movie-lovers should check out, so I fear giving too much of the details away.  Price is great, as is Cushing, and the story is well told.  It will keep you guessing, especially about the larger story line, even if you've already guessed some of the smaller outcomes.  Nice job, Trehern!  Heh, gotta pat myself on the back for not always reviewing completely sh*tty movies.  Onward to the next review!!

No comments: