Monday, 25 October 2010

HORROR WEEK: Sounds terrible

'Dr. Terror's House Of Horrors' was the first Amicus portmanteau film, released in 1965. It's not bad, but lacks the stand out story required to make it a classic.

Directed by shoestring horror maestro Freddie Francis, all the usual suspects are there: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough and, um, Roy Castle.

Castle stars in the dreaded comic episode that each of these films has to have by law, the sobering tale of jazz trumpeter Biff Bailey who, whilst on tour in the West Indies, steals some music from a voodoo ceremony and has to face some unamusing consequences.

Although I have recently warmed a little to Castle after reading he was a chronic agoraphobic who used to hide in a wicker basket between takes of 'Record Breakers', I've never had a lot of time for him, despite his numerous achievements (and world records): for me, he was always a bit too smarmy and eager to please and he gives a irritating performance here (apparently, Acker Bilk was originally due to play the part, but had a heart attack shortly before filming started). The saving grace of the segment is the appearance of the marvellous Tubby Hayes Quartet, who do a couple of rousing numbers and back the irrepressible Kenny Lynch on the song 'Give Me Love'.

To add insult to injury, however, it was Castle and not Tubby who got to release a single to promote the film. The A Side is an awful sub-Goons comedy track that bears no relation to the film except for a shared title. It's about two minutes too long and fails utterly as a promotional tie-in in that it must have actually put people off seeing the film, so I'm not going to subject you to it here.

The b-side, 'Voodoo Girl' is better but then it's basically a version of the number Tubby and the boys play in the film with a slightly squarer arrangement, some awkward lyrics ('the goat is now left to eternally dream') and Castle's fairly average vocal stylings. A squandered opportunity.

For an earful on how it should have sounded, here's the version that the marvellous Mr. Jonny Trunk released a couple of years ago in a limited edition of 666.

That's better. For those of you that haven't seen the film, it turns out they're all dead in the end.

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