HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM
As with all Herman Cohen films, Horrors of the Black Museum lacks any type of subtlety whatsoever it is pure lurid excess. The blood comes bright red, there is a parade of women who undress as far as the censorship of the day would permit. Most of all, the film is parade of novelty deaths a guillotine placed above one victimís bed; giant tongs in the head; and one victim being electrocuted after managing to conveniently stand between two power electrodes who is then dipped in a vat of acid and reduced to a gleaming white skeleton in a matter of seconds. Although the one killing that everybody remembers is the shock opening where the girl is delivered a pair of binoculars by an anonymous paramour, which then jab needles into her eyes when she goes to use them. Everyone remembers the scene despite the fact we never actually see the needles jab into the girls eyes. It is a sequence of astonishing sadism, yet is somehow made harmless by the films sensationalistic approach.
Horrors of the Black Museum is full of lunatic excesses Michael Gough, for no other reason than it suits the plot, is also a mad scientist of sorts with a computer bank and a set of generating electrodes in his cellar. One can stretch suspension of disbelief to accept the script having him use hypnosis to turn assistant Graham Curnow into a killer but it is never explained why Curnow also turns into a white-faced monster when hypnotised. (Hypnotised and mind-controlled killers are a regular feature of Herman Cohens teenage monster films. Indeed, in the US print, an opening was tacked onto the film in which a doctor tries to hypnotise the audience into being receptive).
Michael Gough gives a performance that is memorable in its pure arrogance and contempt. He gets a wonderfully demented soliloquy: The world thinks Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde were figments of a great writers story. But, no, I have clearly demonstrated it is a fact. Man is born with a dual nature. Society tries to suppress evil, but not I ... One must never place any trust in a woman. It was no secret that Satan was able to tempt Eve before Adam. This was one of a string of demented performances that Michael Gough was to enliven the Anglo-horror cycle with and he became a staple in other Herman Cohen films such as Konga (1961), The Black Zoo (1962), Berserk (1967) and Trog (1970).
Herman Cohens other genre films include:- Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952), Target Earth (1954), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957), Blood of Dracula (1957), How to Make a Monster (1958) and The Headless Ghost (1959). Cohens other English horror films include:- Konga (1961), The Black Zoo (1962), Berserk (1967), Trog (1970), Craze (1973) and the Sherlock Holmes/Jack the Ripper film A Study in Terror (1965).
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