The Terror (1963)

Director: Roger Corman
Starring: Boris Karloff, Jack Nicholson, Sandra Knight, Dick Miller, Dorothy Neumann. USA. 1h 20m

There’s not a lot to this old meets new Roger Corman film, a gothic ghostly romance that features Boris Karloff near the end of his career and Jack Nicholson near the beginning of his illustrious career and he’s still quite wet behind the ears, especially in stark contrast of the seasoned Karloff, but even with his mastery it’s easy to see that the film would have benefitted from being much shorter.

There’s No Rest For The Wicked…

In the early 1800’s Andre Duvalier (Nicholson) a Napoleonic soldier has become separated from his company and is stumbling along the shoreline, when he encounters a beautiful woman who introduces herself as Helene (Knight), he keeps spotting her on and off until he finds a safe haven in a castle owned by Baron von Leppe (Karloff) and notices a striking similarity between Helene and the last Baron’s wife Ilsa, but she died many years ago. Astounded by her beauty he carries out a search to find Helene, beginning by questioning the Barons butler Stefan (Miller), and carries on into the local village, but the only person who can shed any light is Katrina (Neumann), a old witch who has a lot of information and some dark interests.

There is a richness to the film, as the main characters meander around all driven by love or lost love. Karloff  does a decent job at keeping things interesting but plays such a short role, it’s almost insulting. In the meantime Nicholson keeps the film alive but is out acted by Neumann, who has some amazing scenes near the end of the film when everything starts to descend into madness, a strange character, Gustav  had a run in with some wild birds and this is possibly one of the best scenes in the movie. Its around these later stages that the film starts to look more like a Hammer Horror  film and you’ll not be wrong to think that as the gothic set pieces  are leftovers from The Raven and The Haunted Palace.  It’s a bit of struggle to get through the movie, which is a shame as it’s a pretty interesting story but it’s just stretched to thinly, but always great to see two great actors at bizarre points of their careers and in an unusual story about passion and love but set in distraught situations.


Rating 4/10

RMasque of the Red Death (1964), The Raven (1963), The Premature Burial (1962)
5s  – Jack Nicholson, Boris Karloff


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