Terror of Dr Hichcock, The / L'orribile segreto del Dr. Hichcock (1962)

4.0 out of 5

Under the anglicised nom de plume of Robert Hampton, Riccardo Freda serves up a great period Gothic horror very much in the Hammer mould; although with a subject matter that would have made it beyond the pale for the British studio at that time.

It's Victorian London and esteemed surgeon Robert Flemyng has invented new anaesthetic that causes the body to temporarily simulate death. Although this proves to be of some use in the operating theatre, the doc is more interested in getting his rocks off by administering it to his wife and having his wicked way while she's in a corpse-like state.

When he gets carried away and shoots her up with too much, he finds himself minus one willing playmate and twelve years later finds him returning to London with new wife Barbara Steele on his arm. Will the Doctor return to his wicked old ways? And what is the source of the anguished screaming that his new wife hears from her very first night in the house?

Whilst slow moving by today's standards, the film is a classic of the genre with more depth than the average Hammer or AIP flick. Some great shock moments, lush cinematography, atmospheric music from Roman Vlad and a great performance from Flemyng, not to mention the opportunity to see the wonderful Steele in sumptuous period dress, mark out the The Terror of Dr Hichcock as a real treat for lovers of Grand Guignol cinema.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics