17 June 2004 | Bunuel1976
L'ORRIBILE SEGRETO DEL DR. HICHCOCK/THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK (1962) - Italian TV Screening Review
Actually what I have on VHS (recorded off the TV) is the full-length version of the film, released in the U.K. as THE TERROR OF DR. HICHCOCK (in the U.S. it was cut by 10 mins. and retitled).
From the little I have watched of 'Euro Horror', this is definitely one of the highlights; most critics place it at the top of Freda's canon and it's easy to see why. Visually the film is stunning (even if the print I have watched has seen better days) with any number of striking images that are not easily forgotten.
Still, the film's greatest coup, perhaps, is its unabashed (but not sensationalistic) treatment of necrophilia, a theme that was pretty much taboo at the time - and probably still is! (I urge you all to read Glenn M. Erickson's excellent and highly perceptive essay on the film on the 'Images Journal' website - incidentally, you will find a whole section here devoted to Italian horror films.) In this respect, THE TERROR OF DR. HICHCOCK would make a fine companion piece to Mario Bava's LA FRUSTA E IL CORPO/THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963), another unhinged (and extremely personal) Gothic masterwork!
The exemplary cast is headed by Barbara Steele and Robert Flemyng. Steele is pretty good in what she has to do (though never quite scaling the heights of LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO/THE MASK OF Satan ) but is overshadowed by Flemyng as Dr. Bernard Hichcock (an inspired choice for a name!) who is utterly credible in all the various facets of manic lust his character has to go through. Indeed, this doctor would not have been amiss in a Poe story and, much as I love Vincent Price in the AIP/Corman adaptations, Flemyng here emerges a far more sinister figure - without ever resorting to camp!
Finally, I wonder how this film's follow-up LO SPETTRO/THE GHOST (1963), which I have never watched, compares with the original. Hopefully both films will one day be adequately represented on DVD, possibly released as a double-feature.