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  • Gorgeously filmed, totally insane Gothic pastiche from Riccardo Freda holds its marvelously overwrought tone through to the fiery climax. At the center of it is Barbara Steele's Cynthia, the neurotic second wife of the eponymous Dr. Hichcock, who, from the second she arrives in her husband's creaky and apparently haunted mansion, is picturesquely threatened by the hostile maid, by a mysterious figure in white, purported to be the maid's sister, and by her own increasingly mad husband, who was already predisposed to pseudo-necrophilia, but who really starts to tip over the brink as he begins to believe his first wife has come back from the grave. It's all both lavish and ludicrous, and profits from Steele's incredible screen presence and the weight of its own images. Spectacular use of color, as well. Essential viewing.
  • THE TERROR OF DR.HICHCOCK (L'ORRIBILE SEGRETO DEL DR.HICHCOCK is a masterpiece! It seems I have come to appreciate this picture more with each viewing. Whereas NIGHTMARE CASTLE is focused on generating an atmosphere of ugliness and treachery capped with a satisfying supernatural pay-off, HICHCOCK goes for more and immerses the viewer in a suffocating fog of loathsomeness and horror. Robert Flemyng as Bernard Hichcock is marvelous. He perfectly calibrates his performance so as to expose his character's slow descent into unbridled derangement. The film opens with Hichcock practicing necrophilia, but we soon see that the Doctor, while obviously demented, is quite capable of protecting the secret of his awful desires. But, as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that his abominable passions are slowly overtaking his intellect and his ability to maintain the appearance of normality. Much of the film's horror stems from this powerful presentation of the insidious and irresistibly intensifying nature of sexual psychosis. It also seems this film holds the ultimate moment of horror in Barbara Steele's exceptional career as a genre actress. The scene as her character, Cynthia, wakes from a drugged sleep is stunning. Cynthia finds herself strapped to a cot and watches as her husband materializes out of the darkness and menacingly advances upon her. To her full horror she stares wide-eyed as Hichcock's face distorts into a misshapen, glowing red mask of malignancy and evil. This magnificent shot was achieved with the use of surrealistic, nightmarish lighting and facial bladders attached to Flemyng's face, which, as they were slowly inflated, dreadfully perverted the actor's features.

    One of the major contributing factors to this film's impact is the sumptuous score by Roman Vlad. Vlad produced a lush tapestry of fully-formed themes and motifs. Most noticeable is the superb piano concerto elegantly performed by Hichcock's first wife, the ill-fated Margherita Hichcock. Simultaneously beautiful and unsettling, I have no qualms about favorably comparing Vlad's fine effort with that other exalted "gothic horror film" composition for solo piano, James Bernard's Vampire Rhapsody from KISS OF THE VAMPIRE. Vlad also composed what I will call Hichcock's Theme; a superlative example of emblematic impressionism. The piece effectively advances a fresh orchestral paraphrase for things dark and depraved, and does so without being prosaic or overwrought. Oddly, Vlad refrained from employing any of these principal themes in the opening titles. THE TERROR OF DR.HICHCOCK is just as shocking today as it was 40 years ago. Don't miss it!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A film about necrophilia? Well, it must be sewer-wallowing filth on celluloid, right? No, actually this is a real movie, and even quite good one, trusting on the strong, twisted Gothic atmosphere. The colour photography is good and the sets are nice mixture of beautiful 19th century interiors and Gothic dungeons. Script by genre veteran Ernesto Gastaldi (with direct nods to movies like Rebecca!) was directed by Riccardo Freda, a cult name who apparently despised the dreary and ditch-water-dull realistic cinema. The queen of Italian Gothic, English-born Barbara Steele, is the beautiful heroine, and her striking period-dressed presence (the period being Victorian England)is another of the film's assets. The score is suitably dramatic.
  • This minor but interesting entry in the Italian Gothic/horror genre is a first in that no film had ever dealt before with the subject of necrophilia. Set in London in 1885, Robert Flemyng portrays Dr. Bernard Hichcock who kills off his first wife, digs her up for a little body worship, then marries the ever-ravishing Barbara Steele. Harriet White Medin is perfect as the spooky housekeeper with an ample supply of nasty secrets and protectress of the demented doctor. Flemyng, Steele & White Medin are quite a terror-ific trio and this flick is lots of fun. Beware of the truncated, rather mutilated American version known as THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK. The dictatorial director Riccardo Freda was responsible for making this film on a bet in just a few days but it doesn't show. HICHCOCK benefits from superb Technicolor and some nice locales and art direction. Even the castle mascot is a black cat named Jess-Belle. Required viewing for all fans of Barbara Steele as it is among her best Italian work. Freda was only equal or better with his work on I VAMPIRI and CALTIKI, IL MOSTRO IMMORTALE.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Another Gothic chiller from early '60s Italy, this is one of the best. The reason being that no other film of the period had such a quietly sickening theme as this one: the main character is a necrophiliac, who gives his partners anaesthetics before making love to them and gets rather too close to the bodies in the morgue. Of course, the subject matter was (and still is) extremely disturbing, which resulted in this film getting banned in Britain. Nowadays the authorities see fit to let us watch it, although the film carries a hefty 18-certificate, even though there is no on-screen sex or violence involved.

    The film deftly sets up an atmospheric situation, by having the setting as an old mansion full of dust and decay. The weather outside is perpetually stormy, with lightning flashing all the time, and an old portrait fills one entire room with its presence. Of course no film of this period would be complete without a basement full of coffins, and sure enough we have one of those too, with creaking gates of iron surrounding it. However while there are flashes of the supernatural in the film (mainly at the ending), the concentration is on human horror: the perverse condition of the title character, whose necrophilia is openly hinted at. His quiet sickness is what makes the film so watchable - and, indeed, a classic in the genre.

    This is thanks to some excellent acting, especially on the part of Robert Flemyng (THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR), who plays Hichcock. Throughout the film he has a gradual breakdown, until he becomes openly villainous and murderous at the climax, and this is portrayed subtlety. He is a man torn between love for his new wife and love for his old, unable to keep his lust for the dead hidden and yet sickened by it at the same time. Flemyng is given some excellent support by scream queen Barbara Steele, who plays his new wife, and conveys the anxiety, confusion, and outright disgust at her husband's mysterious actions well. It wouldn't be the film it is without the presence of Steele, and her charisma makes the film what it is. On top of that, Medin and Glenn have solid supporting roles.

    THE TERROR OF DR HICHCOCK is that rare film; a controversial yet cerebral masterpiece of death and nostalgia which obeys the conventions of the genre (complete with burning house at the end, and climatic fight between hero and villain) and yet stays fresh and interesting throughout, because of the sheer talent involved. It's obvious that director Freda knew his stuff, and it shows, because this is a top notch horror film, even beating some of Bava's own work of the period.
  • The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962)

    *** (out of 4)

    Dr. Hitchcock (Robert Flemyng) administers a drug to his beautiful wife but he accidentally gives her too much, which causes her to overdose and die. The pain causes him to leave him home but years later he returns with his new wife Cynthia (Barbara Steele). It doesn't take too long for the new wife to start seeing and hearing mysterious things, which could be the dead wife.

    THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK is a pretty good horror film from director Riccardo Freda who skips out on blood or graphic violence and instead delivers atmosphere and some great performances. The film became a pretty big hit when it was originally released and it continued to gain new fans as it showed up on American television. There are two different versions out there with the original Italian version running twelve-minutes longer than the American cut but it's the American version that is currently available on Blu-ray and is what I watched.

    For the most part this is a pretty good film that works perfectly in that "old dark house" way where we're given an innocent woman put into a dangerous situation and we're not quite sure what's going on. Is she losing her mind? Is her new husband playing sinister tricks? Has the dead wife returned? These are the questions that are asked throughout the picture and Freda keeps the film moving at a nice pace. There's no question that it's a well-made film that contains some beautiful cinematography as well as a nice music score. Freda builds up a very good and rich atmosphere that carries the picture to the end.

    Another major plus is the fact that the performances were so good. Flemyng is very good in the role of the husband because he plays it so perfectly down the middle that you can never tell what he's up to. Then you've got Steele who once again delivers a great performance as the wife who finds herself seeing ghosts and other strange objects. THE HORRIBLE DR. HITCHCOCK isn't a flawless movie but it's certainly an entertaining one.
  • It is set in 19th London , there a surgeon : Robert Fleming undergoes risked operations . He is the prestigious doctor Hitchock , but he bears a dark secret, he really turns out to be a necrophiliac who likes drug his spouse Margarettha : Maria Teresa Vianello for sexual funeral games ; one day things go awry while engaged in sexual antics and his wife dies . Some years later , he remarries to Barbara Steele who suddenly discovers the dark secrets her hubby . The candle of his lust burnt brightest in the shadow of the grave¡ .

    This is an Italian classic terror movie filled with chills , thrills , sinister atmosphere and scary events . A terrifying and mysterious tale of gothic horror and black madness in which a creepy secret was at a coffin named desire . Dealing with a mad doctor who remarries to bring the first wife missus back from the dead . This is one of the best films made by the craftsman Riccardo Freda who realized some good terror films such as Vampiri , this Horrible Dr Hitchcock and sequelled by " The ghost or Lo Spetto" , also starred by Barbara Steele . As Freda was a pioneer from Horror/Fantasy genre originated in Italy , along with Mario Bava who directed "Black Sabbath" and subsequently Dario Argento , all of them created the famous genre : Giallo . The movie is said by those involved to have hurriedly filmed. Nice acting by Robert Fleming as a sinister doctor with necroliphic tendences who accidentally administers an overdoses with fateful consequences , though she might be coming back from the tomb , as he attempts to heal and rejuvenate her by injecting new blood . Robert Fleming attempted to quit when to be aware the film involved necrophilia and he resulted to be a necrophiliac doctor . Barbara Steele is very good as the frightening wife whose husband tries to reborn the old spouse by use her blood , as she suffers torments and is really shatteted for the mysterious circumstances take place at the ghastly as well as horrifying mansion .

    This motion picture is strong on visual style and interesting script by prolific Ernest Gastaldi , being well shot by Riccardo Freda in only 14 days , including nimble direction assistants who filmed close-ups , rapid frames and cutaways to save time .It displays an atmospheric and extremely creepy score by Roman Vlad . Colorful cinematography full of lights and shadows by Raffaele Masciocchi , being photographed in Villa Peruchetti , Lacio , Rome , Italy . Compellingly made by Freda , his movies had popular appeal and were usually commercial hits . He often used psedonyms as Dick Jordan , George Lincoln and here Robert Hampton . Some reviewers have praised him as an exploitation stylist and present-day his movies have somewhat of cult following . He made various horror gothic movies , from there he went to spy , melodrama and even made one Western .Riccardo directed/ wrote all kinds of genres , such as adventures and Peplum : Dartagnan's daughter , Salamander of desert , Mongols , Magnificent adventurer , Black Eagle , Vendetta of Black Eagle , The mysterious Cavalier , Don Cesare Di Bazan , Il cavalier di San Marcos , Il Figlio di D'artagnan , Spartacus , Maciste in Inferno , Maciste in court of Great Khan, The giants of Thessaly ; Drama: Two orphans in Paris , Beatriz Cenzi , Genoneva Di Bravante , Lovers of Verona ; Giallo : Tragic ceremony in Villa Alexander , Murder obsession ; Eurospy : Agent Coplan FX18 ; Monster movie : Caltiki ; and Western : No killing with dollars .
  • 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 [1960]) 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.
  • 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Riccardo Freda's L'ORRIBILE SEGRETO DELL DR. HICHCOCK aka. THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK(1962) was only the third Gothic Horror film starring the wonderful genre-goddess Barbara Steele, the first two being two masterpieces, Mario Bava's LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO (BLACK Sunday/THE MASK OF Satan) of 1960 and Roger Corman's PIT AND THE PENDULUM in which she starred alongside fellow Horror-deity Vincent Price. While this is not one of the most notable among the nine Italian Horror films starring the divine Miss Steele it is yet another creepy must-see for fans of Italian Gothic Horror and Barbara Steele in particular.

    In 1885, Doctor Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) leaves London after accidentally killing his wife with an overdose of an anesthetic. He returns several years later with his new wife Cynthia (Barbara Steele). It soon becomes clear that the Doctor has necrophiliac tendencies and that his weakness for anesthetics has to do with his own perverted desires...

    Director Riccardo Freda was one of the pioneers of Italian Horror cinema, having directed the first post-WW2 Italian Gothic Horror film I VAMPIRI (1956), which was, in fact, finished by the ultimate Italian Horror director Mario Bava (my personal choice for the greatest Horror director of all-time). While Freda's Gothic Horror films are very good they don't quite reach the quality of those by the incomparable Mario Bava and Antonio Margheriti, in my opinion.

    The most convincing reason to watch the film is, of course, Barbara Steele, who simply is the greatest Horror actress of all time in the humble opinion of yours truly. It is regrettable, however, that her role is restricted to that of the damsel in distress here. She played double-roles in many of her Italian Horror films (LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO, I LUNGHI CAPPELLI DELLA MORTE, AMANTI D'OLTRETOMBA, UN ANGELO PER SATANA) in which she combined the innocent and pure evil, and was always brilliant in doing so. In some other Italian Horror films her characters always had something mysterious and eerie about them. Not so in L'ORRIBILE DR. HICHCOCK, in which she has the role of a pure scream-queen. Personally I would have rather seen her as the villainess. However, she is still great and stunningly beautiful and her performance alone makes the film worthwhile.

    Another great aspect is the thick Gothic atmosphere which is created by the typically great use of camera-angles, darkness and shadows, the superbly creepy set pieces in an eerie old mansion and a nice, eerie score. Cinema does not get more elegant than Italian Gothic Horror from the 60s, and this film is yet another example for that. The film's theme of perversion and necrophilia is typical for early 60s Italian Gothic Horror, which wasn't yet quite as explicit as the Gialli and Horror films of the late 60s and 70s but was already thematically exploring the perverse and controversial.

    For quite some time, DR. HICHCOCK was the last Italian Horror film with Barbara Steele that I had yet to see. Freda made a sort-of sequel to this film one year later with LO SPETTRO (1963), which easily surpasses this one as it is even more atmospheric and Barbara Steele's role is way more sinister and macabre. Overall L'ORRIBILE SEGRETO DEL DR. HICHCOCK is not one of the highlights of Italian Gothic Horror but it is definitely a must-see for my fellow fans of the Genre and the wonderful Barbara Steele. For absolutely essential Italian Gothic Horror masterpieces starring Barbara Steele, watch Bava's LA MASCHERA DEL DEMONIO and Antonio Margheriti's DANZA MACABRA (CASTLE OF BLOOD, 1964).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A master surgeon, one of—if not the best—in the world, has a depraved secret. Riccardo Freda's THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK is a Gothic horror delight set in London. A beautiful pianist, Margaretha, who is ill, Hichcock's beloved, dies after his anesthetic, used on patients, accidentally kills her.

    Hichcock must leave his manor because Margaretha's memory torments him, resigning from the hospital and in doing so the doctor meets a new love, Cynthia (horror iconess, Barbara Steele), returning to home and job shortly afterward.

    As a popular surgeon and doctor, with a distinguished reputation of success, Hichcock is always in demand and so his career often keeps him away from Cynthia who is uncomfortable in the manor. Hichcock, though, after losing Margaretha, will not use the anethstesia any longer as a physician, and this decision increases the mortality rate of the patients under his care, earning disappointment and criticism from those who work alongside him. Meanwhile, Margaretha's memory, all her portraits enshrined throughout the manor, walls and walls adoring her beauty, becomes a burden to Cynthia who just wants to have one room that doesn't remind her of love lost.

    Through Bernard, we learn that Cynthia was in a hospital due to a terrible mental shock as a result of her father's death, establishing a potential psychological problem which might be contributing to several eerie instances where she hears voices forewarning her of death to come, not to mention, footsteps, a turning doorknob, and a skull found on her bed. Hichcock does have a suspicious maidservant, Martha, who shows her disapproval when Bernard is in her presence, and doesn't hide her disgust for Cynthia or the sheer fact that he has "replaced" Margaretha with another. A locked room Martha is protective of intrigues Cynthia—what is in this room?

    Another subplot concerns Bernard's assistant, Curd, who falls in love with Cynthia, his feelings quite evident when they are alone together; it creates the obvious awkwardness because both know these feelings exist. As time goes by, Hichcock becomes more and more distant and cold, which certainly affects his marital relations with Cynthia.

    Truthfully THE HORRIBLE SECRET OF DR. HICHCOCK is as much a dark, Gothic soap opera as it is a horror movie with all the elements in place, in particular, the result of Bernard's infatuation with the corpse of a lovely woman at his hospital and how his alienation for Cynthia slowly drives a wedge between their marriage (and, it is certain to drive her into the arms of Curd who would offer her more of a fruitful relationship).

    What is interesting (or at least what *I* found interesting) is that not only does Hichcock have a secret, but Martha is hiding something as well. The room with the mirror, Hichcock's old laboratory, holds that secret Martha has been intent on keeping to herself, and soon Bernard—as does Cynthia through investigation (or, as one might call plain, old snooping)—will experience himself what she has been hiding. I think this is when the movie hits its stride, near the hour mark, with what I consider the film's greatest set piece, during a loud thunderstorm, the lightning bright and powerful, where Bernard hears a familiar tune from the piano in his manor, someone in a white dress, face covered by a veil, which initiates his long dormant perversion to flower, poor Cynthia the victim of his deviant uprising.

    He will use his anesthesia to paralyze Cynthia, so that she resembles a corpse, unable to move, in order to satiate his deep rooted psycho-sexual deviance. I loved how the movie unravels, the knowledge that Cynthia is in danger because we are allowed to have moments with Hichcock and see the undercurrent of depravity lurking underneath, only a matter of time before his Hyde surfaces. The sinister atmosphere director Ricardo Freda builds is methodical, a slow-burn approach known during this period in Gothic horror when pacing isn't a factor European filmmakers were concerned with.

    What I love about Barbara Steele is that she can slide into the heroine and villainess roles, ably talented to convince in performance as a victim-to-be, vengeful ghoul, or manipulative menace. Her period in Italy and Europe yielded good and bad, but when you have both PIT & THE PENDULUM and BLACK Sunday on your resume, I'd say that constitutes a solid career, even if it lasted a period of ten years. There is a great scene right out of Von Dreyer's VAMPYR where Cynthia awakens to find herself trapped in a coffin with her inscription written on the outside.. Freda's camera steadily drawing near the casket where a small window (some coffins were made to show the deceased's face prior to burial) to unveil Steele's face, her eyes opening, all that horror being buried alive present, Cynthia's fate grim.

    Following this is an intense conclusion where Cynthia attempts to escape from what could be Margaretha's specter—Hichcock's home has underground tunnels, prisons, and a crypt, identifiable to Gothic horror films featuring castles, there always seems to be secret passageways and architectural labyrinths to discover by unfamiliars who walk unknowingly into them. The ending is closer to Corman than Bava, however, the burning castle and handsome hero coming to save the damsel in distress. Robert Flemyng I thought was excellent, the way his hands caress the bodies of those he craves to ravage (mostly bodies of the dead!), and how he shows the teeming unrest and disquiet that lies beneath; I think he's a tortured soul who cannot help himself. Silvano Tranquilli has the uninteresting part of bland love interest for Steele..these are the parts that are written without the vitality normally dedicated to the more colorful villain as evident in Corman's Poe films with Vincent Price.
  • The plot ,which could be considered a horror "Rebecca" ,complete with the late wife who haunts the maleficent mansion,the unpleasant governess,in Mrs Denvers ' mold .One can also find the movie too slow-moving,but it does not matter.

    The wonderful scenery (this house is a splendor) , the clever lightings , the superb colors make it a winner ;add the presence of Barbara Steele ,par excellence the Goth girl , an Edgar Poe atmosphere ,and a fancy for necrophilia ,and you get a must for horror buffs.
  • Many people, like me, will see The Terror of Dr Hitchcock purely for it's cult value. This is the best reason to see the film, as the value outside of it's cult status isn't exactly vast; but the film does offer other reasons that makes viewing worthwhile. First and foremost is the fact that it stars 'The Queen of Horror' Barbara Steele. Steele is an odd beauty, and her looks always ensure that she serves whatever film she's in well. She stars alongside Robert Flemyng, who takes the title role as Dr Hitchcock. Given that the film is supposed to be about him, I was surprised to find that most of the screen time focuses on Barbara Steele's character. This is either the result of Steele's status within the genre, or the fact that Flemyng's character is actually quite boring. This is the film's main problem. The themes on offer are intriguing and often make for great horror movies; but because the central character never really gets a chance to let his motives and desires shine through the performance; it's difficult to really connect with him or the film.

    The story follows the aforementioned doctor. Dr Hitchcock is into necrophilia, and when his game that involves drugging his wife goes wrong and she winds up dead, Hitchcock is unable to let go and keeps her body in the cellar. He remarries and plans to use the blood of his new wife to bring back his old one. Like most Italian horror films from this period; the cinematography is awesome, and this is brought about by lavish sets and excellent use of lighting. A lot of the running time is spent on watching Steele run about the various rooms of the castle, and this would be quite boring if the film wasn't so beautiful to look at. The cinematography isn't enough to save the film, however, as a lot of what goes on does look suspiciously like padding for an otherwise thin plot. The film starts off slowly, and the pacing does pick up towards the end where the film is at it's most interesting. The Terror of Dr Hitchcock isn't a great film, or even a great genre film; but it's an interesting little flick that is best remembered for it's beautiful cinematography and the fact that it stars one of horror cinema's great actresses.
  • A pretty wild ride, this one, after a rather uncomfortable and disturbing start as the first coffin is interfered with. Robert Flemyng is effective as the horrible doctor but I bet he used to leave this one off his CV. Between the worrying start and the breakneck finale there is really not that much happening but we are sustained by the grisly nature of the goings on, majestic photography and, of course, the equally majestic, Barbara Steele. I read somewhere that it was reckoned this was Steele's greatest performance and, on reflection, I think that may be so. Certainly she has a lot to do and continually looks as worried as she is beautiful. Strangely, her two most impressive scenes are both shot through glass. There is a terrifying moment when she and we see a ghost in the garden, through her window and then towards the end the amazing shots of her in the coffin through the small glass window. Not a great story but this works from beginning to end, nevertheless.
  • Robert Flemyng is the title character, Dr. Bernard Hichcock, a doctor / surgeon in 19th century London. His wife Margaret (Maria Teresa Vianello) dies under suspicious circumstances, and years later, Bernard marries younger woman Cynthia (a radiant Barbara Steele). She begins to see and hear strange things, and one of the questions that the story asks is whether Cynthias' visions are real or imagined. Certainly Cynthia starts to suspect her husband of something sinister. Bernards' colleague Dr. Kurt Lowe (Silvano Tranquilli) cares for her and starts wondering about Bernard himself.

    Written by Ernesto Gastaldi, and directed by Mario Bavas' mentor Riccardo Freda, "The Horrible Dr. Hichcock" is fairly engrossing as a mystery, with the two of them being as vague as possible as to what Bernards' intentions are. All we know that is Bernard has a particular kink as part of his personality; this viewer won't mention it here. That helps to give a bit of a lift to what is ultimately a pretty routine story. But the story isn't the principal attraction. It's Fredas' stylized presentation, and the performances of the cast. This is a handsomely produced, suspenseful, atmospheric film, enhanced by a good soundtrack by Roman Vlad. Freda downplays elements such as sex and gore, making his film of more interest to more traditional genre lovers. It's also well paced, clocking in at a mere 77 minutes. (There is a longer, international cut running about 11 minutes longer.)

    Flemyng is effective in his subtlety when it comes to his villainy. You're not quite sure what to make of him. Tranquilli is an utter stiff, but Vianello is fine as the wife, and American actress Harriet Medin, a familiar face in Italian genre cinema during this time, also comes off well as the loyal maid. Still, "The Horrible Dr. Hichcock" truly belongs to the lovely young Ms. Steele, who's got some of the most expressive eyes one will ever see. We've seen her score in villainous roles herself, and here she shows that she can also be a sympathetic heroine.

    Not really a great film in this viewers' humble opinion, but it still provides fine entertainment for any fan of Italian horror.

    Followed by "The Ghost".

    Six out of 10.
  • As far I remember it was one of few pictures over this odd subject, here addressed of light way, where a avant-garde English Doctor (Robert Fleming) who use a special anesthetic developed by himself, despite to be a successful man he hides his black side, he uses this newest anesthetic on his wife (Teresa Fitzgerald) until using a poison to kill her, afterward he disrobes your sick and deranged mind, ends up making necrophilia, he leaves London for twelve years brings back to home his new wife Cynthia (Barbara Steele) however in dark environment and reminiscence from the past on an old eerie house, disturbing facts starts happens, a true nightmare of the newcomer, actually a bit complex storyline, just settled on the final sequence, nevertheless worth a look in this Italian gothic horror tale, surely the strong colorful photography is one of the highlights!!!


    First watch: 2019 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7.25
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Last night we had a late night double feature. In addition to watching 'The Vampire Bat' we also viewed 'The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock'. I'm a big fan of Mexican, Spanish and Italian horror films. I enjoy there different atmosphere and stories compared to American made films of the same time. Here director Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton) did a fine job. I especially enjoy films, like this one, with Barbara Steele. 'THDH' had many of the elements I enjoy most like, good atmosphere, artistic cinematography, fine acting, seemingly accurate period costumes and Gothic settings. The story itself was very off- beat especially for 1963, dealing with a taboo theme like necrophilia. The plot seems like a mixture of 'Rebecca' (1940) with bits of 'Jane Eyre' and strong doses of horror. The films are alike in that a second wife, or lover to be, comes to live in the secluded mansion of a departed beautiful first wife. The home is full of her memories and even large portraits of the first wife. And of course there are mysterious screams and noises in the night and figures moving in the dark. Like in 'Rebecca' there's even a strange maid devoted to her first mistress. There are some other comparisons to 'Jayne Eyre' I won't go into so as not to reveal the plot. We watched this in Italian with English subtitles. The subtitles did not take away from the film at all. If you like Italian or foreign horror films in general, this is a must see. I would include it on my list of best Gothic horror films of all time.
  • We really learn a bit too much of Dr Hichcock and his unusual sexual practices until the 15th mark when the movie makes a real start with the eponymous doctor arriving at a county mansion with his new fiancé. For the next hour Ricardo Freda's movie seems to be doing a lot in two directions, Barbara Steele goes exploring the old mansion with a candelabra to find subterranean passages colored by turqoise filters, and Dr. Hichcock snoops around and is embarrassed to be discovered at night at the hospital he works trying to get his kicks on with one or the other buxom dead patient. Barbara Steele gets to faint a lot and there's a scene where the doctor goes out in the rain screaming the name of his dead wife. It's all very high strung and emphatic in the fashion of Gothic horror cinema and Robert Flemyng as Dr. Hichcock takes hilariously unsubtle facial expressions to indicate shock or suspicion or withdrawal. The sexual deviancy promised by the subject matter of necrophilia is largely absent, but some of the shocks are well timed and the sight of a ghastly old woman in a veil almost gave me the creeps, so this should bode well with the horror aficionado.
  • This Gothic Italian horror flick features '60's Scream Queen Barbara Steele as the new bride of a respected physician who learns that her seemingly charming hubby is hiding a few fiendish secrets regarding his first wife's mysterious death. Suspenseful, creepy, and atmospheric, this is the kind of historical, nightmarish horror piece that Edgar Allan Poe could have written, and there is indeed a reference to PREMATURE BURIAL. Steele, usually cast as the cunning, plotting villainess, does well in a rare sympathetic role. Horror buffs shouldn't miss this!
  • Bob-4528 May 2001
    Warning: Spoilers
    Dr. Hitchcock, a noted surgeon and anastheologist has developed an intravenous anesthesia, created a great deal of notoriety and success for himself. His favorite patient is his wife, whom willingly allows herself to be drugged and ravished. Hitchcock knows the drug is unpredictable and unstable. However, one evening, he administers slightly more, hoping to place his wife into an even more deathlike condition. However, this time the drug kills his wife. Devastated, Hitchcock leaves his home, not to return for twelve years. Hitchcock returns with a new wife (Barbara Steele), whom he eventually plans to murder and use her blood to restore the beauty of his first wife, whom apparently has taken on the condition of "living death."

    The movie has its share of creepy moments but fails to take full advantage of Steele's loveliness (Just as well, she suffers in comparison to Hitchcock's first wife, who has an even BETTER face and bod than does Steele). Little sympathy is raised for Steele's character. After all, what did she see in that creep Hitchcock in the first place, and why does she allow herself to be victimised in her

    own home? I know this is supposed to take place in Victorian England, but, come on.


    The worst thing about "The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock" is that there IS NO PAYOFF. We dread seeing what has happened to the beauty of the first Mrs. Hitchcock. Fear not, we NEVER see her clearly, blunting what little payoff this movie had to offer. All the characters are skin deep and atmosphere can carry a movie only so far.

    The print I viewed had been poorly maintained. Some of the scenes had become so contrasty, there was barely any image at all (in DAY scenes at the hospital, surprisingly). One can get MANY more shocks in the teaser at the beginning of any "X Files" episode than in the nearly two hours of this slow movie.

    Not a total failure but pretty horrible, nonetheless.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    L' Orribile Segreto del Dr. Hichcock, or The Terror of Dr. Hichcock, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock or The Secret of Dr. Hichcock as it's also known amongst English speaking audiences, starts in 'London, 1885' where Professor Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) likes to have sex with his wife Margaret (Maria Teresa Vianello) while she is drugged to appear dead because he's a necrophiliac. However when his wife does die in reality Professor Hichcock decides to leave London, jump forward 12 years later & Professor Hichcock returns to London with his new wife Cynthia (Barbara Steele). Unfortunately things take a downward spiral for Cynthia as she becomes convinced the house is haunted by Maragret's ghost & matters aren't much better for professor Hichcock as every time he's about to do the dirty with a corpse in the hospital morgue someone walks in on him...

    This Italian production was directed by Riccardo Freda & didn't really do anything for me at all, I should also point out that I think I saw the 85 odd minute uncut version as opposed to the heavily edited by 12 minutes version that was released in the US although I don't know whether it has subsequently been re-released uncut. The script by Ernesto Gastaldi is the culprit here, it's a mess that doesn't explain anything & is frankly extremely dull with an extremely thin plot which takes a backseat anyway. It's never made clear why Hichcock wants to drive Cynthia mad, I mean if your trying to kill someone just do it! It's never explained whether it was the ghost of Margaret or if she was still alive & why they needed to kill Cynthia either. The character of Martha (Harriet Medin) the housekeeper was never explained to any degree either & she simply 'leaves' just before the end for no apparent reason. What I'm trying to get across here is that every major plot point that could have turned L' Orribile Segreto del Dr. Hichcock into a classic Gothic horror mystery have holes in them you could drive a tank through, nothing is explained to any satisfaction & once 'The End' credit comes up your not entirely sure what the preceding 90 odd minutes were all about, or 75 if you've got the cut US version & I can only begin to imagine what a mess that cut is. One more thing which annoyed me, even though the films title refers to him as Dr. Hichcock he is never referred to that way in the film itself & is always called Professor Hichcock. It's slow going as well, 90% of the films run time takes place on the same set of stairs & I don't really get all the positive reviews for this lame & rather dull film.

    Director Freda does a great job here, sure I didn't like the mess of a story but L' Orribile Segreto del Dr. Hichcock sure does look good. It has some terrific 19th century production design, the sets, costumes & props all go to create a visually great film with plenty of stylish lighting as well. It's just a shame the story is so thin & weak. Forget about any gore as there isn't a single drop of blood in the entire film & Dr. Hichcock's necropilious activities amount to nothing more than a kiss, by todays standards this is PG rated stuff all the way.

    Technically the film is very good with decent production values although there are only a few locations they are used to good effect. It's always hard to judge the acting when watching a dubbed film & a badly dubbed film at that.

    L' Orribile Segreto del Dr. Hichcock is a pretty poor film, sure it has a great visual style about it but is that enough? I'd say no as I'd take a good strong story over flashy visuals any-day of the week, it's just my opinion of course but I think this is a pretty poor film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Before having read anything about Italian Gothic Horror films,my original through when hearing about this title a few years ago was that it must be some sort of comedy film about Alfred Hitchcock!.As time went on,and I eventually got round to finding out a few things about this particular Italian cinema sub-genre,this title seemed to be one of the main three which are connected to the sub-genre.Searching round on Youtube,I ended up finding a subtitled video of the film where all of the colour looked like it had been covered in oil.Getting very keen on seeing the film in its full "glory",I went on a frantic search until I found a beautiful bright dubbed print of the film,which at last gave me a chance to book an appointment with the good doctor..

    The plot:

    Wanting to make the relationship that he has with his wife (Margherita Hichcock) a bit more kinky,Doctor Bernard Hichcock decides to try a chemical that will cause his wife's heartbeat to drop to a level that will cause her to look like a corpse.Shortly after giving her the injection,Hichcock discovers that seeing the effect of the chemical on his wife,helps him to reach a level of "excitement" that Bernard has never imagined.Sadly,along with the excitement Hichcock discovers a little too late that the chemical has a terrible side-effect when his wife suddenly stops "pretending" and actually becomes a corpse.

    Despite having a long struggle to get over the death of his wife,Hichcock meets a woman called Cynthia who he soon proposes to.After getting married to the woman,Hichcock takes her back to his mansion,where they will spend the rest of their lives happily together.How ever,although Hichcock is doing everything to help his new wife "settle in",Cynthia begins to suspect that he is trying to hide something about his past when she first notices that his mansion is covered with paintings of his deceased wife and that she is perhaps starting to see things,due to having looked out of a window,and seeing what looked to be "a ghostly,living corpse" outside the mansion.

    View on the film:

    Despite the films screenplay disappointingly not reaching my expectation levels director Ricardo Fredra gives the movie a terrific, almost twisted Brothers Grimm like appearance with his stylish directing,which brilliantly makes the film's locations look like actually interiors and not scenes that were shot in a studio thanks to Fredra making the characters long shadows a prominent feature to the look of the film.Also with the shadows Ricardo uses the Technicolor format in a fantastic eye- catching manner,as the characters faces and the castle location are brought to life in a stunningly lit up shiny style.Along with Fredra's solid directing the film also features a great performance from lead actress Barbara Steele (who interestingly,is an uncredited extra in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film The 39 Steps and also starred in the 1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode titled Beta Delta Gamma shortly before making this film!) who along with looking beautifully striking also does brilliantly at showing the wide-eyed fear that Cynthia starts to develop as she begins to wonder if her husband (played by a wonderfully stern Robert Flemming)is attempting to hide something extremely disturbing from her,or if she is actually starting to lose a grip on her sanity.Sadly with the great work that Freda and Steele display in this film,the screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi (who also wrote the Sergio Martino Giallo All The Colours Of The Dark) deflates any feeling of terror for the first hour of what should be a very nerve- wrecking film,due to Gastaldi making the pace of the films plot move at a surprisingly slow pace,which despite the last half an hour of the movie feeling pretty energetic leaves the overall film feeling disappointing and tied. Final view on the film: Terrific stylish directing from Freda and a great performance from Steele are sadly let down by a disappointingly plodding screenplay.
  • London, 1885: surgeon Dr. Bernard Hichcock (Robert Flemyng) likes his women to be quiet when he makes love. Dead quiet. Accordingly, he injects his beautiful willing wife Margaretha (Maria Teresa Vianello) with anaesthesia to achieve a death-like state before getting fruity with her, but his plan backfires when she really carks it during one of his night-time visits. Distraught, he leaves home.

    Twelve years later, the doctor returns to London with a new wife, Cinzia (Barbara Steele), who is blissfully unaware of her husband's particular sexual proclivities. But old habits die hard, and it's not long before the doc is up to no good, fondling the female stiffs at his hospital, and injecting Cinzia while she sleeps. Seeing a ghostly figure roaming the grounds at night, Cinzia suspects that something is very wrong and confides in her husband's dashing colleague Dr. Kurt Lowe (Silvano Tranquilli). Will Kurt realise the horrifying truth before Cinzia follows Margheretha to the grave?

    If the title didn't make it clear, director Riccardo Freda's gothic horror The Horrible Dr. Hichcock owes a debt to dear old Alfred H., not just in the Psycho-style closing scene, in which the demented doctor's true nature is finally revealed to Cinzia, but also with several other references to Hitch's work: the gothic structure of Rebecca, the poisoned glass of milk from Suspicion, the 'skull in the bed' from Jamaica Inn. Freda's imagery is great, with stunning lighting and beautiful cinematography, but his storytelling isn't a patch on Hitchcock's, the action moving at a dreary pace that threatens to send the viewer into a deep sleep, anaesthetic not required.

    The ending is also more than a tad confusing: according to both my trusty Aurum Encyclopedia of Horror and Wikipedia, Margaretha was buried alive and came back from the grave, presumably a little less sane for her experience. Did creepy housekeeper Martha (Harriet Medin) look after her for all the time that the doctor was away? Why didn't Martha contact Bernard to tell him? Or did he know all along? I haven't the foggiest. Not sure why the doctor thought that Cinzia's blood would revive Margaretha's looks either!

    4.5/10, rounded up to 5 for the hilarious Anglicised name given to production designer Franco Fumagalli in the opening credits: Frank Smokecocks.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Riccardo Freda's film is another variant of Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca" updated as a horror and fantasy film: everything is on the menu: the widower who gets married again,the gloomy -but desirable- castle,the sinister-looking servant ,the wife who may or may not be dead and of course the new lady played by famous Barbara Steele (the actress is the main reason to watch this movie).Even the final is borrowed from "Rebecca" .The glass of milk directly comes from "suspicion" and "notorious" .There's also a dash of "psycho" thrown in for good measure.

    Thanks to Barbara Steele ,this slow-moving flick sustains interest and attention till the end.The long walks at night through the dark corridors and subterranean passages are well filmed.But if you want to see Barbara Steele in a really good work,try " La Maschera del Demonio" by Mario Bava instead.
  • Enticing, beautiful and absorbingly atmospheric Italian Gothic horror film from the absolute golden period, the early 60's, and starring one of the world's most radiantly gorgeous female creatures; Barbara Steele. "The Terrible Secret of Dr. Hichcock" - notice there's no "T" in the name to avoid lawsuits against the master of suspense himself – takes place in London in the year 1885, at the peak of the Victorian era in other words, and certainly contains all the necessary ingredients of a delicious Gothic cocktail, but unfortunately the film is a bit slow-moving and it takes slightly too long before something really substantial occurs. Director Riccardo Freda generates a compelling and ultra-macabre Gothic atmosphere, with numerous thunderstorms and dark château passageways, but he doesn't have a fascinating enough plot to go with the ambiance. Usually writer Ernesto Gastaldi punctually delivers engaging and superb scenarios, but maybe this time he seemingly had a bit of an off-day. After his wife dies from a mysterious condition, which he may or may not have inflicted himself, Dr. Hichcock promptly leaves his mansion and prominent job at the hospital. He returns twelve years later with an even lovelier new wife (Mrs. Steele!) Cynthia and reprises his profession. During her many dull days alone in the mansion, Cynthia notices a sinister presence and it doesn't take too long before she starts losing her mind further on. She suffers from horribly nightmarish hallucinations in which she hears disturbing screams and spots Dr. Hichcock's previous wife meander through the house and nearby woods completely covered in a white ghostly nightgown. Is her mental condition really deteriorating or could it be that the good Doctor's first wife never really passed away? I think the title alone already answers this haunting question. Overall a very derivative and forgettable story but, as said, it are the spooky atmosphere and Victorian elements that'll keep you alert in this movie. The decors are stunning and the black-and-white photography is stylishly elegant. If you've never seen this type of movie before, "The Terrible Secret of Dr. Hichchock" perhaps isn't the ideal place to start, but experienced horror fanatics will certainly appreciate spotting all the luscious trademarks.

    Riccardo Freda actually was the mentor of the greatest Italian horror director who ever lived; Mario Bava. Freda took a step sideways on the film sets of "I, Vampire" and "Caltiki"; offering Bava a chance to complete his first films as director as well next to being the cinematographer. I always wondered whether or not Freda ever regretted this initiative, because from the very first moment the acolyte surpassed his mentor in terms of pure and genuine craftsmanship. For example this "The Terrible Secret of Dr. Hichckock" is a nice and worthwhile Gothic horror installment, but it undeniably can't hold a candle to Bava's "Black Sunday" (also starring Barbara Steele) or "The Whip and the Body".
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