The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962)

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The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) Poster

In 19th century London, a woman weds a doctor with necrophiliac tendencies, and whose first wife died under mysterious circumstances - and might be coming back from the grave to torment her successor.


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21 December 2017 | Bezenby
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I suppose how horrible you think Doctor Hitchcock is depends on your own view of necrophilia. I mean, sure, the first time we see him he's bashed the head of a gravedigger so he can have a quick go on a corpse's paps, but then he did show his kinder side by also being the Doctor who stitched up the poor guy's head at the hospital later. And it's not necrophilia is his wife is still alive, and only looks dead because of the drugs he pumps her full of, is it? It's a complicated issue.

This film also gives us a Double Scouse Lead Actor Line-up! (or D.S.L.A.L for short)! Not only do we have Birkenhead born Barbara Steele in the film, but playing Doctor Hitchcock is Liverpool born actor Roberyt Flemyng! Very little is known of this actor, except that he was an aristocratic-looking character actor, with a 60-year long theatrical career stretching back to 1931. The son of a Liverpool physician, he had a brief medical career, which he abandoned in preference to becoming a thespian. Rose to prominence as Keit Neilan in 'French Without Tears' in 1936. Thereafter, had leading roles on the London and Liverpool stages. Also appeared on Broadway and went on tour in 1952 opposite Katherine Cornell in 'The Constant Wife'. During World War II, he served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, reaching the rank of full colonel. He was awarded the MC (Military Cross) in 1941, mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the military OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1944 King's Honours List for his services to the Royal Army. On 21st March, 1995, he suffered a serious stroke and was for a time comatose. He eventually recovered consciousness, but was incapable of speech and was limited in his movements. He died as a patient in St. Thomas's Hospital in London in the early hours of May 22nd, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Barbara by the way is Dr Hitchcock's second wife, because Hitchcock accidentally killed his first wife with those drugs while trying to turn her into a fake-corpse. Hitchcock, after twelve years, has now returned to his creepy old mansion with Barabararararara, who immediately takes a dislike to meddlesome ratbag housemaid Harriet White. After some screaming is heard, an alarmed Barararararbara is told that's just Harriet's crazy sister and that she's getting shipped off to some loony bin the next day. If that's the case, however, who's running around laughing, being spooky, and making use of the mansion's standard-issue secret passageways? And why is that creepy cat still alive after twelve years?

Barbara Steele sure does a lot of fainting in this film! Someone leaves a skull in her bed = faint. She's out in the garden when a ghostly bridesmaid runs about = faint. She looks through a keyhole and sees someone preparing a noose = keels over. That last one doesn't work out too well for her either. Someone's up to something, and while all that's happening Dr Hitchcock is getting a hankering for some cold flesh, and constantly nearly keeps getting caught at the hospital morgue for this troubles (mainly by suspicious Silvano Tranquili, who has the hots for Barbara).

I'm going to level with you here and say that this film isn't exactly a white knuckle ride. It's pure undiluted Gothic horror that takes it's sweet time getting to conclusion, but just like his other film The Ghost, Riccardo Freda makes good use of colour and throws in loads of mood (and thunderstorms, don't forget thunderstorms). There's one particularly weird scene where Barbara hallucinates Hitchcock's face swelling up while red light fills the screen. That said, I do prefer the Ghost if I had to compare the two.

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