Review: House of 1000 Dolls / Cert: 15 / Director: Jeremy Summers / Screenplay: Harry Alan Towers / Starring: Vincent Price, Martha Nyer, George Nader, Ann Smyrner / Release Date: January 28th
Yet another slice of Euro-sleaze from the stable of Brit producer Harry Alan Towers. And it's got Vincent Price in it. But is it as doll-icious as it sounds? We think not.
This is a tale of sex trafficking, in which stage illusionist Felix Manderville (Price) and his assistant Rebecca (Hyer) aid a mysterious kingpin, known only as the King of Hearts, to procure new girls for his brothels in down-town Tangiers. George Armstrong (Nader, 'famous' for his lead in grade Z turkey Robot Monster) and his wife, Marie (Smyrner), become involved when they find out one of their pals has been murdered while attempting to track down his missing girlfriend (played by Tower's wife Maria Rohm, who, surprise, surprise, managed to feature in many of his films). Without knowing what they are getting into, the couple head into the seedy underworld to find out what has happened, with the Great Manderville all too willing to help.
The film was directed by a veteran of various action-oriented TV shows, but you certainly couldn't tell – the pacing is patchy, with long periods of very little happening. Although Tower's script (written under his pen name of Peter Welbeck) has to shoulder at least part of the blame, stuffed as it is with grand ideas that don't come to fruition, and plot strands that go nowhere until the frantic climax. Which is not to say all is lost. The cinematography (by Manual Merino, who was behind the lens on some of Jess Franco's best, such as Vampyros Lesbos and Count Dracula) is wonderful, and kudos must go to Mediumrare for releasing the film in it's original widescreen format, rather than the full frame version that is screened on TV, so we can make the most of it. Fans of Price will enjoy his performance, which invokes his turn in The Mad Magician, but there are all too few macabre touches (the delivery of one of the 'dolls' in a coffin and hearse is a stand out) and even he apparently rated the movie as one of his worst. It just never gets seedy enough to have that sleaze factor we look for in this type of film, but it could pass a few hours on a wet Sunday afternoon.