Horrors of the Black Museum (1959)
With the worldwide popularity of Hammer Films taking off in 1957 with The Curse of Frankenstein and their subsequent horror themed films it was inevitable that producer Herman Cohen would use modern day England as a back drop for a blood soaked color extravaganza. Unlike the Hammer films of the period this film is set in modern day London with Scotland Yard detective Geoffrey Keen baffled by a rather nasty lady killer on the loose. Along for the ride is an actor who never read a horror script that he couldn’t ham up a notch above the rest of the so-called horror stars of the day, Michael Gough.
Gough plays the editor of a scandal magazine who consistently attacks the Yard for their ineptness at solving murders. Almost to the point where he seems to know a lot more than they do. Hmmmmmm. Wonder why? Producer Cohen and director Arthur Crabtree in an effort to cover all the genre cliches throw in everything from an Igor type assistant in a torture chamber dungeon to a mad scientist with a pool of acid to some rather outlandish murders. In actuality this film could be classified as an early slasher film predating the stomach turning films of Herschell Gordon Lewis by a few years. And let’s not forget the hint of sex, just check out June Cunningham in the film’s trailer.
Herman Cohen is the producer of some truly memorable low grade drive in horrors ranging from I Was a Teenage Werewolf with a very young Michael Landon, Konga another Gough ham job to Trog which I hate to say was the low point for Joan Crawford very late in her career. As for our leading man Michael Gough, when the horror cycle came to an end he found a friend in Tim Burton who cast him as Alfred the Butler in the Keaton/Nicholson version of Batman and it’s subsequent sequels.