For such a hurried whim with so many cooks in the broth, The Terror is a surprisingly good film. Although it is an original work, it uses many of the tropes that Roger Corman set up with his Edgar Allan Poe films the tortured mood; people haunted by the crippling weight of past events; mysterious castles and their doom-laden residents; the innocent traveler who stumbles by; mystery women. There is a particularly good opening with Jack Nicholson meeting the mysterious Sandra Knight on a beach and she trying to draw him out into the surf and maybe or maybe not drown him; their subsequent meeting where she tries to draw him into quicksand; and the revelation that she is supposed to be Boris Karloffs dead wife. Roger Corman sustains the mood particularly well here. The opening unfortunately is of little relevance to the rest of the film we are given no explanation why Sandra Knight is trying to lure passing strangers to their doom. Nor does a pre-credits teaser where Boris Karloff wanders the castle and finds a skeleton in a closet have anything to do with the rest of the film. Even though they are second hand, the Raven castle sets still look impressive in fact, the film probably makes much more atmospheric use of them in fact than The Raven itself did.
The plot eventually does become increasingly improbable, particularly the revelations the denouement holds, which surely strains even the credibility of this genres propensity for melodramatically twisted psychological motivation. Not the least of which is when we are asked to believe that 76 year-old Boris Karloff is the son of 49-year-old Dorothy Neumann.
Roger Cormans other genre films as director are: Day the World Ended (1955), It Conquered the World (1956), War of the Satellites (1956), Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), Not Of This Earth (1957), The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Journey to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent (1957), The Undead (1957), Teenage Caveman (1958), A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Wasp Woman (1959), The House of Usher/The Fall of the House of Usher (1960), Last Woman on Earth (1960), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Premature Burial (1962), Tales of Terror (1962), Tower of London (1962), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Raven (1963), X The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), The Tomb of Ligeia (1964), The Trip (1967), Gas; or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order to Save It (1970) and Frankenstein Unbound (1990). Cormans World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) is a documentary about Cormans career.
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