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Film / Dr. Terror's House of Horrors

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Dr. Terror's House of Horrors is a 1965 British horror Anthology Film from Amicus Productions, directed by veteran horror director Freddie Francis, written by Milton Subotsky, and starring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Five strangers board a train and are joined by a mysterious fortune teller who offers to read their Tarot cards. Five separate stories unfold: An architect returns to his ancestral home to find a werewolf out for revenge; a doctor suspects his new wife is a vampire; an intelligent vine takes over a house; a jazz musician plagiarizes music from a voodoo ceremony; a pompous art critic is pursued by a disembodied hand.

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Dr. Terror's House of Horros contains examples of:

  • Afterlife Express: At the end of the film, the five passengers alight from the train to find themselves on a deserted platform. A floating newspaper informs them that they died in a train accident, and Dr. Schreck reveals himself as Death.
  • Angel Unaware: At the end of the film, Dr. Schreck is revealed to be The Grim Reaper.
  • Car Fu: In the "Disembodied Hand" segment, Marsh takes revenge on Landor for his humiliation by running him over with his car. This act comes back to haunt Marsh in more ways than one.
  • The Cat Came Back: In the "Disembodied Hand" segment, Franklyn Marsh makes multiple attempts to dispose of the hand; including throwing it into a fire, and sealing it in a box and tossing the box into a river. No matter what he does, the hand returns and tries to kill him.
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  • Caustic Critic: Franklyn Marsh is a pompous and patronising art critic whose rivalry with artist Eric Landor sets in motion a deadly chain of events.
  • Curse: In the "Voodoo" segment, Biff Bailey is cursed when he writes down the sacred music he hears being played during a voodoo ceremony. The curse strikes when he attempts to use the music for personal profit.
  • Cut Phone Lines: The Man-Eating Plant snaps the phone line to the cottage when when Hopkins tries to phone for help in the "Creeping Vine" segment.
  • Daywalking Vampire: In the "Vampire" segment, vampires can move freely about during the day, and appear no different to ordinary humans.
  • Dead All Along: The five passengers are given premonitions of their gruesome deaths, only to find in the end that they've already died in a train wreck.
  • Driven to Suicide: After losing his arm (and therefore his career) in "Disembodied Hand", artist Eric Landor falls into deep despair and blows his brains out.
  • Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death
  • The Grim Reaper: At the end of the film, Dr. Schreck is revealed to be Grim Reaper, and that the passengers have been travelling on the Afterlife Express.
  • Helping Hands: In the "Disembodied Hand" segment, Franklyn Marsh runs over artist Eric Landor and causes his hand to be amputated. Landor's amputated hand comes after Marsh seeking vengeance.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In the "Voodoo" segment, Biff Bailey is cursed when he steals sacred music from a voodoo ceremony and attempts to use it for his own gain.
  • Improvised Cross: When Dr. Blake throws his arms up to shield his face from the bat, they form the sign of the cross and drive the vampire away the "Vampire" segment.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In "Werewolf", Dawson shoots the werewolf with no effect. He wonders what happened, explaining that he had six Silver Bullets made from a melted down crucifix, which should have been guaranteed to kill it. Deirdre Biddulph opens her hand and asks him if he means these bullets.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fire turns out to be the one thing the Man-Eating Plant in "Creeping Vine" is afraid of. The final shot, of the vine batting out the flames left behind by the humans, leaves open the question of whether the plant is truly defeated.
  • Man-Eating Plant: There is little or no explanation for the vicious vine; it is simply noticed growing around an isolated house. Soon, it is snipping phone lines, strangling a hapless victim, and trapping the survivors in the house – until they learn that the wicked weed is afraid of fire, enabling them to escape. The final shot, of the vine batting out the flames left behind by the humans, leaves open the question of whether the plant is truly defeated.
  • Mistaken Nationality: When Biff first meets calypso singer Sammy Coin in a club in the Caribbean, he assumes that he is West Indian. It turns out that Sammy is actually a Londoner.
  • Never Trust a Title: Anyone expecting an actual 'House of Horrors' will be disappointed. Supposedly, the house of horrors refers to Dr. Schreck's Tarot deck, which constructs horrifying futures for people, but this is never explained anywhere in the film. Even the name Dr. Terror is barely justified, with a brief conversation explaining that Dr. Schreck's name would translate into English as Dr. Terror. Nobody ever addresses him as anything other than Dr. Schreck.
  • Reality Ensues: If you drive a Wooden Stake through your wife's heart, the police will arrest you.
  • Revealing Injury: In the "Vampire" segment, Dr. Blake shoots the bat that appears at the clinic trying to drain blood from the boy. Later, Nicole Caroll shows up at home with a badly injured arm, which convinces her husband that she is the vampire.
  • Scary Black Man: The male members of the voodoo cult who silently surround Biff without his noticing in "Voodoo". In particular, the hulking priest of Damballah who appears without explanation in Biff's home in London to take revenge and retrieve the stolen music.
  • Silver Bullet: In "Werewolf", Dawson melts down a silver crucifix (which had itself had been made from the silver sword used to slay the werewolf 200 years earlier) and casts six silver bullets to slay the werewolf.
  • Tarot Troubles: Every time Dr. Schreck draws the cards to show the travellers their fate, the four cards drawn are always Major Arcana. And whenever he turns the fifth card to show then how they may escape their fate, it is always Death.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Honestly, Biff! You play the stolen voodoo music and it causes a massive windstorm inside the jazz club, so instead of burning it as your friend suggests, you decide to take the score home to improve the arrangement?
  • Welcome to the Caribbean, Mon!: In the "Voodoo" segment, the only aspects of the West Indies that are shown are calypso music and Hollywood Voodoo.
  • Wooden Stake: In the "Vampire" segment, Dr. Blake convinces Dr. Caroll that his wife is a vampire, and that the only way to kill her is to drive a stake through her heart. Dr. Caroll does so. Afterwards, the police arrive and arrest him for murder. He screams for Dr. Blake to back up his story, but Blake denies any knowledge of what he is talking about. After the police drag Caroll away, Blake turns into a bat, announcing that this town isn't big enough for two doctors, or two vampires.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Dr. Schreck's Tarot draws apparently reveal that there is no way for the five passengers to escape the fates he predicts for them. However, what the fifth card (Death) is actually saying is that will avoid these fates because they are already dead.

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