Saturday, 17 January 2009


MADHOUSE is one of those films that you just know isn't very good but you can find lots of perfectly good reasons for enjoying it. It easy to cite Vincent Price and Peter Cushing as valid pluses but for me the film holds lots of good memories as I was lucky enough to be invited to Twickenham Studios by Vincent Price to watch the filming. When I got the invitation I don't think anybody knew that it was going to be such an unhappy set. Vincent's marriage was in tatters due to his relationship with actress Coral Browne, he was unhappy with his co-star Robert Quarry and with the script which was being constantly rewritten by producer Milton Subotsky (I actually witnessed two arguments with Subotsky - a real stand up shouting one between him and actress Adrienne Corri and a more measured but nonetheless angry confrontation between Subotsky and Vincent. Into this bubbling cauldron of miscontent you can also drop the perceived incompetence of director Jim Clark (a talented and highly respected film editor). Adrienne Corri and several other members of the supporting cast were quite vocal in their assessment of Clark's abilities. Of course, to witness such chaos was quite interesting and probably actually enhanced my visit to the studio. Vincent was his usual charming self despite, for obvious reasons, being rather pre-occupied. Robert Quarry was very pleasant and amused by my greeting "It's good to see Count Yorga lives!" and actress Linda Hayden was happy to chat about her career in horoor films and how thrilled she was to work with Vincent. Sadly, Peter Cushing was not working during my visit. The film may not be a masterpiece but if you are Price or/and a Cushing fan there is plenty to enjoy. Jim Clark never directed again and went back to his distinguished career as an editor. Rating **

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

I would wholeheartedly agree with your assessment that MADHOUSE isn't very good but somehow it's still enjoyable to watch. Possibly because it was made during that strange transition period between horror films in the Vincent Price/Peter Cushing style and the soon-to-proliferate slasher films; that uneasy balancing act between the two styles makes MADHOUSE interesting to watch. The blood and guts is extremely minor viewed by today's audiences but it must have been rather raucous and distasteful to veterans like Vincent. However, the reason to watch MADHOUSE is of course for the actors' performances (as the director's skill was, as you say, less than superb). And how can you beat Vincent Price entering a room to greet his lady love and her decapitated (but replaced) head falls off! This is also one of the rare times that Peter Cushing allows himself to go WAY over the top during the final reel. I'm sure that Vinnie & Peter et. al. decided to just have fun with it since they knew it was gonna be no classic. I'm also quite fond of the batty Adrienne Corri dwelling in the basement among millions of her precious spiders. Absolutely not a great movie but still great fun to watch and there's something to be said for that.