DATELINE: One Last American International Horror
Cushing & Price
Madhouse is a nuthouse extravaganza movie with a funhouse spirit.
Vincent Price finished up his American International contract, which featured so many classic Edgar Allan Poe tales done outrageously, that it seemed inevitable that he would go out with a blaze. Here, he plays a movie star who made a bunch of movies as “Dr. Death,” a hideous murderer. Art imitates life here.
His career went south when he was accused of cracking up and murdering his fiancée. Whether he did it or not is the crux of the horror. You may find more than a fair share of suspects trying to “gaslight” the old star.
Well, after a dozen years in a madhouse, he returns to acting to star, good grief, in a TV series based on his infamous character.
If you haven’t guessed that most of the funhouse nuthouse stuff is all tongue-in-cheek, you miss more than most of the Hammer House parody.
Joining Price is Peter Cushing as his best friend, fellow actor, and screenwriter of all those grisly murder movies.
If that is not spicy enough for you, A-I studios dug up their two other favorite stars of the 1960s—Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone—and featured them in amusing cameos. It’s no mean feat, as the two legendary stars were long-gone for about a half-dozen years by the time this film was before the cameras.
You have to love a movie that begins with everyone watching a film in a Hollywood mansion with the final credits rolling out the words, “The End” in blood red letters.
If shameless overacting isn’t your thing, then you may not appreciate the golden opportunity Price has been given: he even dresses the part, in white trench coat and matching fedora.
There is even an O.J. Simpson moment when Scotland Yard has everyone try on the murderer’s glove: if it fits, you know the rest…So, O.J.’s lawyers found the idea in this movie!
Playing Mr. Toombes, Price puts a cutrate on fellow cast members as they are all mysteriously dispatched as the new TV series takes place at British studios. It is a nicely set film with solid production values to make you forget this is what a good cast and production team can do with a low-budget.