Love makes men do really dumb and strange things.
This could be one of the themes to the 1963 horror film from the mind of B-Movie auteur Roger Corman.
Corman was famous for his cost-cutting measures, finding A-List talent under Hollywood’s nose and well his simplistic style of directing. All of these infamous traits are at home in “The Terror”.
Jack Nicholson stars as Lt. Andre Duvalier, a French soldier on leave from Napoleon’s army who becomes lost along the French coastline.
There he meets the very lovely Helene (Sandra Knight) who shows him a creek run off into the ocean. It is there where Andre can finally get a fresh drink of water.
Overcome by the woman’s beauty (if you see the film you can understand Andre’s obsession, the girl is quite lovely) follows Helene across the countryside until he reaches an old castle that looks overgrown and rundown. It is here that he meets the mysterious Baron Victor Von Leppe (Boris Karloff).
Helene’s mystery seems to end at the castle. Who is this woman? What is her connection to the castle and the Baron?
The movie was made on an extreme shoestring budget. And it looks it even for 1963. It also piggy backed the previous Corman picture “The Raven” based on Edgar Allen Poe’s classic story and co-starred both Nicholson and Karloff. The sets were also reused from “The Raven”. Corman was famous for reusing actors and sets because the more movies he could produce with lower the overhead the more money he could make at the box office. Corman’s business plan was flawless and genius even if his films really weren’t.
“The Terror” was filmed three years after Nicholson starred in Corman’s “Little Shop of Horrors” and seven years before Nicholson’s big break in 1970’s “Five Easy Pieces”.
Nicholson would team up with Corman on nine separate projects.
In most of those films you will fin yourself stunned that a guy with no obvious talent or flare would become the Jack we all know and love today.
For me the two best things about this film was remembering just how cool Boris Karloff’s voice actually was and the supporting role by the great Dick Miller. Miller is one of those actors that has been around forever but can just bring so much to the smallest scene. Look him up if you get a chance. I loved his supporting role in both Gremlins films and so many other projects.
The story while interesting, especially during the film’s two twists, I found it more like Scooby Doo. You know where the monster is chasing Shaggy and Scooby and there is a corridor of many many doors. You have that except its Jack stumbling blindly searching the castle for 1/2 the movie. Boring stuff really. Where is Scooby Doo when you need him?
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2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer