Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sheer Bliss?

One of the pleasures of a weblog like this is the ongoing excuse to finally get around to watching films that you may have owned for years but never actually seen. Films like ‘Madhouse’, in fact.
Hammy veteran horror actor Vincent Price stars as hammy veteran horror actor Paul Tombs. Tombs may be a psychotic killer, but he can’t remember and the Police don’t have any proof – all they know is that his fiancĂ© had her head cut off in mysterious circumstances and he had a complete nervous breakdown, so they have their suspicions. In jolly old Britain to stage a TV comeback, Tombs is dismayed to find that the people around him are being bumped off in unpleasant ways, and only his old friend Peter Cushing doesn’t think he’s the culprit. The truth, of course, is much, much weirder…  
A rather good, civillised slasher with lashings of Gothic and a large pinch of Giallo, ‘Madhouse’ is enlivened by numerous clips from Price’s horror resume, as well as wry, solid performances from the two leads. Sort of a conflation of ‘Theatre of Blood’ and ‘Dr Phibes’, ‘Madhouse’ isn’t hugely original, but it is good fun, and the denouement is gleefully ridiculous. Good stuff - I should have watched it ages ago.


  1. I first saw 'Madhouse' in the late 80s when I was about 14; videotaped off ITV, if I remember correctly.

    It inspired me to seek out the source material, 'Devilday' by Angus Hall - an altogether different kettle of fish that has blessed me with an unshakeable image of Fatty Arbuckle brandishing an ice lolly.

  2. I envy you for waiting this long to view this classic.

    I'd go fucking nuts if I'd just watched this for the first time !

  3. looks like I'm next in line to go crazy then...

    can't believe I've never seen/heard of this! used to scour my uncle's copy of Alan G. Frank and then keep a keen eye on the regional variations in the TV pages so I could stay up/tape whatever films the Beeb and UTV were showing. this isn't in the book & don't recall ever seeing it on. Theatre of Blood is one of my favourites though & Cushing will always be my hero so it's looking pretty good to me so far!

    I'm excited! can you tell? thanks again Paul!

    1. I had the Alan G. Frank book too. A veritable font of knowledge for the young horror enthusiast, although I do recall him being quite snooty about the more modern films, such as The Shining.

  4. "Good stuff - I should have watched it ages ago."
    You should have blogged this ages ago - I've been waiting three months for this! ;)

  5. Simon Crubellier1 October 2012 at 14:09

    As with Jeffman, I first saw this on a late-night ITV showing in the early 80s, and loved it at the time, but having seen it again recently I don't think it stands up well to the Phibes films or Theatre. It reminded me more of 'The Dummy' from 'Beasts' than either of those films, ultimately, and where Phibes & co have enough brio that one is prepared to forgive all sorts of plot holes and implausibilities, there are some real glaring problems with this, especially around the climactic revelations. But the last scene is a stone-cold gem. [And it absolutely is in the Alan Frank book, 'cos that's where I first heard of it!]

  6. " [...] finally get around to watching films that you may have owned for years but never actually seen [...]"

    I am thrilled to know I am not the only one.