Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WHAT A CARVE UP! - “No Place Like Homicide!” (1961)

Greg Goodsell here after a very long absence -- So! Are you up for an "Old Dark House” comedy from ol' Blighty? No?

 TOO BAD, as we here are stuck with this abject stinker whose original title was NO PLACE LIKE HOMICIDE!

Here is our "hero" Kenneth Connor in the role of Ernie Broughton, a milquetoast whose job is copy editing horror novels. In truth this turkey is based on the book "The Ghoul" by Frank King, the same source novel for the rare Boris Karloff vehicle THE GHOUL in 1933. While that film was a surprisingly grim slice of pre-code horror, this film is strictly a comedy. Kind of, sort of.

Here is Ernie's flat mate Sid Butler, played by Sid James. These middle-aged gents live together -- and I kid you not, sometimes share the same bed together! Homophobes need not worry - Ernie has a female love interest later on.

Here we go, one of the few reasons to see this thing -- DONALD PLEASANCE. Hailed by my father as the "greatest actor in the English language," Pleasance is best known as Sam Loomis in the HALLOWEEN film series. You should check out the Australian shocker WAKE IN FRIGHT, which stars Pleasance at his most slimy! Here, he plays sinister lawyer Everett Sloane, who informs Ernie that his Uncle Gabriel has died and must hie himself to his gloomy ancestral mansion for a reading of the will!

Here's a de rigueur spooky moment in all of these films -- a spooky train conductor who warns the guys not to venture out to the spooky old mansion. This cliché is sacrosanct as it's been included in virtually every Brit horror flick, as recently as THE LADY IN BLACK as recently as last year!

So we arrive at the mansion, and who should one of Ernie's relatives be but venerable actor DENNIS PRICE! Price started off his film career with classic Ealing Studio comedies like KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, and was something of a romantic male lead until alcoholism and closeted homosexuality -- in spite of marriage and children, got the better of him. He would end his career performing in the films of JESUS (Focus! Focus! FOCUS!) FRANCO before passing away at the age of 58 in 1973. Franco himself began playing a harp earlier this year....

My! This tired ol' thang has an unusually strong cast! It's horror movie fave Michael Gough as the butler, long before he began essaying the role of Alfred the Butler in the recent BATMAN series. Gough would act in many of the British horror films of producer Herman Cohen, such as KONGA, HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM and THE BLACK ZOO. His last film work was providing the voice of the Dodo bird in Tim Burton's ALICE IN WONDERLAND before passing in 2011 at the ripe old age of 94. Trivia note: Both Gough and Price would appear in the cheap-o horror classic HORROR HOSPITAL in 1973.

YET ANOTHER celebrated British actor, ESMA CANNON plays the dotty Aunt Emily, stuck in the Edwardian age and still campaigning for women's suffrage! Cannon was from Australia and enlivened many a CARRY ON comedy! While she plays an old lady, Cannon was only 56 when she made this film. Sadly, she would end her acting career in 1963 and pass away in 1972 at the age of 66.

There is the reading of the will -- and Pleasance informs the gathered relatives that they have been left with nothing, nothing and more nothing.

Guy Broughton (Price) and sister Janet (Valerie Taylor) are understandably perturbed! Taylor likewise had a lengthy acting career on the silver screen. Her most noteworthy genre credit is as the loathsome Madame Denise in director Roman Polanski’s horror classic REPULSION in 1965.

Blustery character actor George Woodbridge plays Dr. Edward Broughton. He figures larger in the film later on … I don’t like him, but I don’t think we’re supposed to.

Now we're talking -- the chief draw for movie cultists -- Shirley Eaton as the comely nurse! You may not remember Eaton without several coats of gold spray paint. That's right -- she was the victim of James Bond baddie Goldfinger in GOLDFINGER (1964)! As we try to drive that Shirley Bassey theme song out of our heads, Eaton is still very much alive and well and making the rounds of the James Bond movie memorabilia conventions!

Michael Gwynne stars as Malcolm Broughton, foreboding and yet fey Cousin Malcolm! He's given very little to do here other than provide to the body count. Gwynne played Hermes in Ray Harryhausen's JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS as well as VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED. He played the prosecutor in Hammer Studios' most horrifying non-horror film, NEVER TAKES SWEETS FROM A STRANGER, a daring drama on the sexual abuse of children. The fact that he's given so little to do here verifies my belief this was a big waste of time for everyone involved! Gwynne was only 56 when he died.

People begin to drop off at the isolated mansion and Shirley Eaton finds an excuse to get semi-naked.

Ernie gets a clandestine peek -- the voyeur!

Ernie prepares for bed, and I don't think anyone in the history of the world EVER wore pajamas like that, no not ever!

.... and Ernie sleeps in the same bed with Sid! AAAAAAaaaaahhhhhh! Bickering like an old married couple only to retire in the same bed at night, one wonders what was going on here. Ernie hears a noise –

Here is the film's only real semi-scary or semi-funny scene. Ernie is occupied as the towering Malcolm sneaks up upon him –

And it’s a case of “Roses are red, Violets are Black, You Look Your best With a Knife in Your BACK!” for poor old Malcolm!

Have we seen this type of scene before in horror movies? I stumble to think? Have we seen this image before?

I’ve just gone over my pictorial allotment for this entry so this means I can get on with my life now! HOO-ray! An excellent cast in a stale, unfunny film (folks on the IMDB Like it a lot, though), you’re probably just better seeking out other “old dark house” thrillers like – like, THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) instead! This is Greg Goodsell and I’m outta here – for now!


pcna said...

"sette allegri cadaveri"
nice italian poster ;-)

greetings from Italy

Eegah!! and Tabonga! said...

Grazi Valeria!!!

TABONGA! said...

Hey, I just got HORROR HOSPITAL, whoa, it's out there, coming to The Dungeon soon!

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