posted 00/00/2008

Directed by:
Roy Ward Baker

Peter Cushing ... Dr. Pope
Herbert Lom ... Henry Fengriffen
Patrick Magee ... Dr. Whittle
Stephanie Beacham ... Catherine Fengriffen

Country: UK
Runtime: 91 min
AKA: Bride of Fengriffen
I Have No Mouth But I Must Scream

The Hammer house of horrors does it again, or did it again, seeing as this film is over thirty years old at the time of this writing. This film is strange, however, compared to other Brit horror fare. It has nothing to do with the classic monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein's Monster, but still manages to be a memorable and surprisingly chilling film that keeps the audience on its toes, not knowing what to expect.

The buxom and lovely Stephanie Beacham plays the virginal Catherine who has just wed Charles Fengriffin. At the start of the film they are moving into the ancestral Fengriffin estate, a palatial manor house deep in the isolated woods of England. And like any good old, gothic house, there is a ghost story and curse attached to it. Almost immediately Catherine starts seeing crazy shit. While staring at the eerie portrait of her husband's ancestor, a bloody hands shoots out of it and scares the living shit out of her (and me). Then she starts seeing a long-haired man outside her bedroom window. He smiles devilishly, even though his eyes have been gouged completely out of his greasy face. A severed hand starts crawling around the house as well, seemingly under its own intelligence, and spying on her and her search for answers as to what is happening in the house.

Soon she finds herself pregnant, and people start dying around the manor house. Her husband, unsure of what to do, calls on the aide of Dr. Pope, a psychiatrist, who is played by Peter Cushing. Cushing takes over the film about halfway through as the focus shifts from Catherine's questioning of the strange goings on, to his search for the truth. He uncovers an incident that occurred long ago, but still curses the family to this day. Henry Fengriffin, the original owner of the manor house, raped the virginal bride of his stable boy during a drunken party one night, then chopped the man's hand off so that he would learn respect (that's how they did things back then). The stable boy cursed the family then and there, promising that the next virgin in the house of Fengriffin would be his, and no one would stop him, not even death. So, the severed hand crawls around, getting rid of people who are trying to help Catherine and she eventually gives birth not to the heir of Fengriffin, but to the stable boy's child (missing hand and all)...or does she?

I equate this film to a filmed version of Universal's Halloween Horror Nights, because of the amounts of unexpected jump-at-you moments that the film throws your way. It's gorier than I thought it would be, and even though I gave it a 2 star breast rating, there really isn't any boobage, save for the massive amounts of cleavage on display, which definitely racks up the points (pardon the pun). The film is not as slow as some other Hammer films, which adds to the fun house atmosphere of crazy shit happening at all times. This is really kind of a good place to start if you have never seen a British horror movie before. The cast is in fine form (Cushing kicks ass as usual), the story is interesting and creepy, and the visuals are intriguing, to say the least. This is one classy house of horrors!

  - Jose Prendes


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