22 April 2015

"THE TERROR" (Chilling 20 Movies Pack, #4)


Working Title:
Lady of the Shadows

Alternate Titles:
The Haunting / The Castle of Terror / The Night of Terror

German Titles:
The Terror - SchloƟ des Schreckens / The Haunting - Vision des Grauens / Terror House - Das Haus des Todes / Die Dame aus dem Meer

USA, 1963
Directors: Roger Corman,
 Francis Ford Coppola (uncredited), Monte Hellman (uncredited), Jack Hill (uncredited),
Jack Nicholson (uncredited)


According to an interview with German newspaper "Die Zeit" (click here),
renegade filmmaker Roger Corman called "The Terror" '(...) the craziest movie that I've ever made'. Looking at the movie's weird production history, it's pretty obvious what he means.

After Corman wrapped his adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven",
he realized that there were still a couple of shooting days left before the Raven-sets were torn down, and so he decided to shoot another film on the spot. Based on a commissioned Poe-like screenplay by Leo Gordon ("The Wasp Woman") and Jack Hill ("Blood Bath"), Corman shot the bulk of the movie within a couple of days on the sets of "The Raven" and "The Haunted Palace".

Due to lack of time and several other reasons (directors guild etc.), Corman wasn't able to finish the movie, and so he hired Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather 1-3") to shoot additional exterior footage. Several other scenes were directed by Jack Hill, regular Corman-collaborator Monte Hellman ("Silent Night, Deadly
Night 3")
and main actor Jack Nicholson himself!

9 months later, Corman and editor Stuart O'Brien ("Dementia 13") finally cobbled the footage and the directing styles of 5 different people together. Result: a super-weird but interesting, entertaining and quite satisfying mess of a movie. The plot is all over the place and doesn't make much sense (something about a French lieutenant, a creepy baron, a mysterious woman and an old witch), but that doesn't matter because everything else is just great.

The cast is simply killer: Jack Nicholson in one of his very first roles, his only wife Sandra Knight, horror god Boris Karloff and Corman-regular Dick Miller. There's tons of stunningly suspense-laden and breathtaking scenes, like the eerie opening or the scene where Nicholson explores the castle, as well as some other remarkable scenes like the bird attacks or the amazing finale where people get struck by lightning, bodies quickly rot into skeletons
and a whole crypt gets flooded.

The sets all look beautifully creepy and were perfectly captured by the magnificent camera work of John M. Nickolaus Jr. ("Attack of the Giant Leeches") and Floyd Crosby ("House of Usher"), and the musical score by Roland Stein ("Spider Baby") is ravishing, powerful and simply excellent. Oh, I forgot to mention the delightful-looking opening credits sequence. They don't make 'em
like that anymore...

Not a perfect movie, but definitely way, way better than its reputation. A must-see for fans of everything Corman, Poe, Hammer, Amicus etc.

Wiki ~ Imdb


  1. LOVE this film. Great poster too :)

  2. You would think that this kind of silliness (the Story behind why they made the Film) would be a thing of the past, but...not quite.

    The Director of the Corman-produced 'Monster' tells the Story of how he was forced to add a Scene of his hero flying in his Ship to the Film since an interior Set was left over the weekend from (I think) 'Battle Beyond the Stars.'

    More recently, there's an Ellen Page Film which was shot in less than a week, but took about 6-7 months to get out of Editing and released. That was in the last 10 years!

    1. Ha I love how Corman tried to use, re-use and re-cycle every piece of set he worked with. You could say, this is true green filmmaking ;)))

      Curious about that Ellen Page film. Know the title?


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