Pretending to be set in London though shot in Italy, this grand guinole tale of The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock aka The Frightening Secret of Dr. Hitchcock aka The Terror of Dr. Hitchcock (L'Orribile segreto del Dr. Hitchcock,1962) stars wild-eyed eerie beauty Barbara Steele as Cynthia Hitchcock. She is the fresh young wife of anesthesiologist Dr. Bernard Hitchcock (Robert Flemyng).
She is replacing his previous wife (Maria Teresa Vianello) who died under sinister circumstances, who may actually be in a living state of death-like preservation, & who fulfills the professor's necrophilic desires. His creepy faithful housekeeper (Harriet White Medin) strives to protect his horrible secrets as Renfield protected Dracula.
Barbara Steele usually plays some kind of femme fatale -- witch, vampire, murderess, seductive slut -- but in this case she is the damsel in distress, pretty tough as distressed damsels come, & sje does quite a good job of hamming it to the extreme.
As the film's most thrilling attribute, it's nice that Steele is center-screen for nearly the whole film.
Tasteless atmospherics make this a reasonably good piece of kitsch, but ultimately the only reason to watch it is for the high percentage of screen time devoted to Barbara Steele.
Filmed back-to-back with The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock was The Ghost; aka, The Ghost of Dr. Hitchcock (Lo Spettro; aka, Le Spectre!, 1963).
This is a nominal sequel, though the story is not this time set in London, is about a John Hitchcock instead of Bernard Hitchcock, & his wife Margaret rather than Cynthia.
Really the two films are unrelated except for starring Barbara Steele in technicolor & for being thrillers posing as supernatural.
The fact that Dario Argento claimed greater influences from director Riccardo Freda than from Mario Bava may lend both films a bit of interest to Argento's legions of fans.
In a castle in Scotland, in 1910, the physician Dr. Hitchcock (Elio Jotta, though credited as Leonard G. Ellio) is crippled & knows he hasn't long to live.
He convinces his colleague Dr. Charles Livingstone (Peter Baldwin) to attempt a radical cure involving administration of deadly poisons followed by the antidote.
John's wife Margaret is secretly having an affair with Charles. She talks her lover into not administering the antidote, & soon John is dead & entombed. Almost immediately, ghostly occurrences begin, harrassing the murderous couple.
Margaret becomes increasingly paranoid about her lover until she finally breaks & goes psycho on Charles. The climax is packed with gothic grotesquerie, none of it inventive, though justice at least is meted out to each & everyone involved.
Though not very effective as horror or as mystery, The Ghost akin to The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock turns out to be worth the effort of viewing, for the sake of Barbara Steele's expressively huge-eyed crazy gaze & the over-the-top wickedness of the character she plays.
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