Legends of Horror, Discs 8 and 9

Disc 8

Shock, 1946, b&w. Alfred L. Werker (dir.), Vincent Price, Lynn Bari, Anabel Shaw, Frank Latimore, Stephyen Dunne. 1:10.

Young lady arrives at a San Francisco hotel very excited because her husband, assumed dead for two years but really a POW, will be meeting her—but they’ve lost her reservation. The manager finds her a room (actually a suite) for one night only. As she’s waiting for her hubby, she goes out on the balcony and sees, inside a nearby room with the drapes open, an argument that ends with a husband clubbing his wife to death with a candlestick.

Does she call the desk? Notify the police? Nope—she goes into shock. When her husband arrives, much later (the plane was delayed), he finds her sitting on the sofa, wide-eyed but unresponsive. A doctor checks her over and says it’s mental—but what luck! There’s a great psychiatrist in the hotel. Who just happens to be the wife-killer. And who takes her to his asylum…where his nurse (and lover) would just as soon make sure she doesn’t get well.

That’s the plot. It also involves an odd crisis of conscience, in which one person murders another because of unwillingness to kill a third. Vincent Price is Vincent Price. The sound is occasionally distorted, but the print’s pretty good. All in all, a middling $1.00.

The Island Monster (orig. Il mostro dell’isola), 1954, b&w. Roberto Montero (dir.), Boris Karloff, Franca Marzi, Patrizia Remiddi, Carlo Duse. 1:27 [1:25].

The sleeve gets the plot wrong—but maybe that’s because the plot is incoherent, as is this mystery in general. (It’s not a horror film, but Boris Karloff is a Legend of Horror…) It involves Italian drug smuggling on Ischia, a seeming benefactor who’s really the villain (guess who?), a police undercover agent whose wife is so jealous that she insists on, essentially, blowing his cover and making his daughter a suitable kidnapping target, and ever so much more.

I won’t even attempt to summarize the plot or how it progresses. It’s badly dubbed (I could almost hear the English-speaking actors sitting around a table, cigarettes and drinks in hand, reading from the script as the footage flashed on a screen), badly acted, just plain bad. At least the dubbers found a mediocre Karloff voice impersonator. I see IMDB reviews average out to 2.2 points on a 10-point scale—and that may be generous. (Turns out it is: One crazed Karloff fan gave it 10 points, balancing out all the 0, 1 and 2 point scores). For anyone who likes either good movies or so-bad-they’re-good movies, this is one to avoid completely, but for Karloff completists only, I’ll give it $0.75.

The Lady Vanishes.

Previously reviewed. $2.50

Rich and Strange.

Previously reviewed. $0.75

Disc 9

All previously-reviewed Hitchcock films: Easy Virtue ($1.00), Secret Agent ($2), The Skin Game ($1.25), The 39 Steps ($2).

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