Though its original title, and the twist/punchline of the final episode, suggest a debt to Amicus’s DR TERROR’S HOUSE OF HORRORS, this extremely low-budget effort from director David L. Hewitt (THE WIZARD OF MARS, THE MIGHTY GORGA) and writer Russ Jones (who tossed off similarly glib gothics for Creepy and Eerie) is more in the line of American anthology efforts like TALES OF TERROR or TWICE-TOLD TALES. Astonishingly primitive in direction, with scenes played out by apparently amateur actors in agonisingly stiff widescreen master shots and no close-ups even for shock effects, the film uses battered stock footage from the Corman Poe series for many establishing shots and a few sequences involving burning buildings, galloping coaches, seafront castles (geographical note–Transylvania doesn’t have a coast) or torch-bearing mobs. John Carradine takes host duties, rattling off tedious paragraphs to introduce five brief, predictable horror tales: ‘The Witches Clock’ (sic), ‘King Vampire’, ‘Monster Raid’, ‘Spark of Life’ and ‘Count Alucard’ (‘Count Dracula’ in the end credits). Carradine pops up again as a sinister handyman in the first story, Lon Chaney Jr is an Edinburgh doctor in ‘Spark’ and Mitch Evans (radio’s Jimmy Olsen) makes a poor Count in the finale; otherwise, a small pool of inexpressive clods (Roger Gentry, Ron Doyle, Vic McGee, Karen Joy) crop up in varying roles. ‘The Witches Clock’ has a notional contemporary setting, but all the others try for 19th Century period dress – perhaps to match the stock footage. The stories are pat little sketches featuring a witch-cursed grandfather clock, a vampire serial killer mystifying Scotland Yard, a mad scientist who resurrects to avenge himself on an unfaithful wife and her lover, a colleague of the late ‘Dr Erik Frankenstein’ who tries out an electrical revivification process on the wrong corpse and a precis of the opening chapters of Dracula which winds up with an EC horror-style revelation about this version of Jonathan Harker (Gentry).
Image Entertainment’s no-frills release of this creaky minor effort offers a non-anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer of a print that, minor speckling aside, is in pretty good shape. It’s an ugly, murky film, but the colours are solid–especially the red wipes and iris effects used for transitions in a sole stylistic frill.
First published as a DVD review in Video Watchdog.