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House Of 1000 Dolls

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    Ian Jane
    Administrator

  • House Of 1000 Dolls



    Released by: Kino Lorber
    Released on: July 21st, 2015.
    Director: Jeremy Summers
    Cast: Vincent Price, Martha Hyer, George Nader, Maria Rohm
    Year: 1967
    Purchase from Amazon

    The Movie:

    Directed by Jeremy Summers, produced by none other than Harry Alan Towers and released domestically by American International Pictures, 1967's House Of 1000 Dolls introduces us to a magician named Felix Manderville (Vincent Price). When the movie begins, a massive coffin is being moved into his mansion but shortly after this, it bursts open and a woman named Diane (Maria Rohm) jumps out. As it happens, this is part of the act he does with his wife, Rebecca (Martha Hyer), though in reality the act itself is a front for a slave ring wherein they kidnap lovely young women who are then forced into prostitution.

    Given that the two operate their show/criminal racket around the nightclub scene, there's ample opportunity to wrangle the kind of tender young flesh they need. Also hanging around here is Fernando (Sancho Garcia), Diane's boyfriend - he's wondering what happened to her and winds up cooperating with a couple named Stephen (George Nader) and Maggie Armstrong (Ann Smyrner) in hopes of reuniting with his lost love.

    All signs point to a Tangiers brothel referred to as The House Of Dolls, a raunchy joint run by a man known only as 'The King Of Hearts'…

    Written by Towers himself, this one is nicely directed by Jeremy Summers who had recently made The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu for the producer, a film that also starred Rohm (then Towers' wife). Despite the lurid content and some scenes of ladies being whipped (which are a bit longer in this uncut version, the same version that was released by MGM on their MOD program The MGM Limited Edition Collection a couple of years ago), the film never goes as far as the pictures that Jess Franco would make for Towers in just a short period of time. Not even close. In fact, in terms of what we're shown, the film isn't particularly graphic, though it certainly implies much more than it depicts and as such, it's sleazier than your average Vincent Price vehicle by a good margin.

    Like a lot of the stuff Towers was making around this time, there's a very obvious pulp novel feel to much of what happens in the film. If you watch it on that level, it's entertaining and intriguing as it mixes genres in strange ways. The film incorporates elements of old serials and actions movies as well as mystery and thriller elements but despite the presence of Price, who is a bit underused here (though very good in his role - and particularly fashionable!), it never feels like much of a horror film. While that won't bother some, those who see Price only as a horror icon may not get exactly what they want out of the movie (while those able to recognize his work outside the genre should do just fine - he was, after all, a far more versatile actor than many will ever really recognize).

    While Price is the one to watch the rest of the cast do… okay. Rohm looks as beautiful here as she ever has and for that reason, she scores high marks. Never mind that she's not asked to do a whole lot. Nader and Smyrner are serviceable if unremarkable while Sancho Garcia is actually a lot of fun as the man who will do whatever it takes in order to save the woman he loves. Martha Hyer also entertains as Price's wife, they have a good chemistry together and they look great on screen. Add to that the fact that the movie is really nicely shot and makes good use of some interesting locations and it turns out to be very much worth seeing for fans of trashy pulp films or Price's more esoteric fare. And if you dig female mud wrestling, then so much the better.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    House Of 1000 Dolls arrives on Blu-ray in new AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and it looks excellent, easily surpassing other home video releases from the last few years. Detail is very strong here and colors are reproduced very nicely indeed. Black levels are solid and while there's a bit of minor speckling there aren't any problems with serious print damage. The film's grain structure looks fine, free of any obvious noise reduction or digital trickery, while skin tones look nice and natural.

    The only audio option provided is a DTS-HD Mono track in English, there are no alternate language options or subtitles provided. Clarity is good here as is range and balance. Hiss and distortion never factor into things and the dialogue is clear and easy to follow.

    Vincent Price expert David Del Valle and filmmaker David DeCoteau team up for a commentary track that makes for a pretty interesting listen. Del Valle offers up a lot of interesting facts and what not for the early days of the project such as original casting and directing choices and the two go back and forth about the involvement of producer Towers. The make some interesting observations about the look of the film, the locations, the cast and crew and quite a bit more and it's a well-paced and informative talk.

    The disc also includes trailers for a few other Vincent Price starring pictures - Madhouse, Tales Of Terror, More Dead Than Alive - as well as static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    House Of 1000 Dolls may feel restrained but that doesn't really take away from its value as pulpy entertainment and a bit of a curiosity item when compared to most of Price's other films. Not perfect by a long stretch, it does feature Price at the top of his game with some fun supporting players and marginally sleazy set pieces. The Blu-ray release from Kino offers a big upgrade in the video department, solid audio, and a commentary that is genuinely informative and interesting. If you're a fan of the film, this is definitely an upgrade worth making.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!





















    • John Bernhard
      #2
      John Bernhard
      Senior Member
      John Bernhard commented
      Editing a comment
      cut/paste from a comment on another site from someone who works in the industry: ...it looks like Kino rushed it through telecine as quickly as possible to save money. Flesh tones are all over the map, and color isn't always well-matched from cut to cut.

    • Ian Jane
      #3
      Ian Jane
      Administrator
      Ian Jane commented
      Editing a comment
      Looked fine to me, but I don't have the old DVD to compare it to.

    • John Bernhard
      #4
      John Bernhard
      Senior Member
      John Bernhard commented
      Editing a comment
      I don't have the BD but can see some funky tones and inconsistencies on display just in the review caps.
    Posting comments is disabled.

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