Horrors of the Black Museum
|Horrors of the Black Museum|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Arthur Crabtree|
|Produced by||Jack Greenwood
|Written by||Herman Cohen
Shirley Anne Field
|Music by||Gerard Schurmann|
|Edited by||Geoffrey Muller|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures (US)
|Release date(s)||29 April 1959 (US)|
|Running time||95 minutes|
|Box office||over $1 million|
It was the first film in what film critic David Pirie dubbed Anglo-Amalgamated's "Sadian trilogy" (the other two being Circus of Horrors and Peeping Tom), with an emphasis on sadism, cruelty and violence (with sexual undertones), in contrast to the supernatural horror of the Hammer films of the same era.
Frustrated thriller writer Edmond Bancroft (Michael Gough) owns a private "black museum" of torture instruments. He hypnotises his assistant Rick (Graham Curnow) to commit increasingly horrific crimes for Bancroft to write about.
- Michael Gough as Edmond Bancroft
- June Cunningham as Joan Berkley
- Graham Curnow as Rick
- Shirley Anne Field as Angela Banks
- Geoffrey Keen as Superintendent Graham
- Gerald Anderson as Dr. Ballan
- John Warwick as Inspector Lodge
- Beatrice Varley as Aggie
- Austin Trevor as Commissioner Wayne
- Malou Pantera as Peggy
- Howard Greene as Tom Rivers
- Dorinda Stevens as Gail Dunlap
- Stuart Saunders as Strength-Test Barker
- Hilda Barry as Woman in Hall
- Nora Gordon as Woman in Hall
- Vanda Godsell as Miss Ashton
- Gerald Case as Bookshop Manager
- Geoffrey Denton as Sergeant at Jail
- William Abney as Patrol Constable No. 1
- Howard Pays as Patrol Constable No. 2
- Frank Henderson as Medical Examiner
- Garard Green as Fingerprint Expert
- Sydney Bromley as Neighbour
- John Harvey as Man in Bookshop
- Marianne Stone as Neighbour
Producer Herman Cohen said he got the idea for the film after reading a series of newspaper articles about Scotland Yard's Black Museum. He arranged through a contact to visit the museum, then wrote a treatment and later collaborated with Aben XX on the screenplay. Cohen says the use of binoculars as murder weapons, and all the other instruments of death in the film, were based on real life murder cases.
Half the money for the budget was provided by Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy of Anglo-Amalgamated in the UK, the other half from American International Pictures. It was the first movie from AIP in CinemaScope and colour.
The credited producer was Jack Greenwood but Herman Cohen says this came about to ensure the film qualified for the Eady levy and in fact Greenwood was more of an associate producer assiting Cohen.
Cohen wanted to hire Vincent Price for the lead and also considered Orson Welles but Anglo-Amalgamated pushed for a British actor in the lead as it would be cheaper, so they decided to use Michael Gough. Arthur Crabtree was hired on the basis of his work on Fiend Without a Face. ("The price was right and the old guy needed a job, and I hired him," recalled Cohen. "And he was exactly what I wanted and needed as a good craftsman.")
A thirteen minute prologue featuring hypnotist Emile Franchele and HypnoVista was added for the US release by James H. Nicholson of AIP, who felt the movie needed another gimmick. "We tested it in a few theaters and the audience went for it like crazy, hokey as it was," recalled Cohen. "It helped make the picture a success, I guess, 'cause people were looking for gimmicks at that time."
The film was given a wide release in the US on a double bill with The Headless Ghost. It was very popular and earned over $1 million in profits. Cohen estimated 72% of the audience for this sort of film was aged between 12 and 26.
Cohen says when the movie was released on television they had to take off the hypnotism prologue "because it does hypnotize some people."
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p100
- "Attack of the Monster Movie Makers: Herman Cohen, The London Years" By Tom Weaver Hermancohen.com accessed 1 June 2014
- 'Museum' Due Here Aug. 12 Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 July 1959: C9.
- FILM-MAKER FINDS THAT HORROR PAYS: Herman Cohen Makes Profit on Grisly Pictures -- Fox to Screen Durrell Books By MURRAY SCHUMACHSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Apr 1959: 40.
- Teen-age Monster Maker, but Oh So Clean! Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 14 Apr 1963: L3.
- Obituaries: B-movie producer Herman Cohen The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 22 June 2002: J11.
- Horrors of the Black Museum at the Internet Movie Database
- Horrors of the Black Museum at Hermancohen.com
- Horrors of the Black Museum at TCMDB
- Horrors of the Black Museum at BFI Screenonline