House of 1,000 DollsOverview -
When a vacationing couple in Tangiers run into an old friend there, they discover that he is searching for his missing girlfriend who has been kidnapped by an international gang of white slavers. Nader investigates but before he can come up with anything, his friend is murdered. Meanwhile, nightclub magician Price and his mentalist partner continue their nefarious activities--they hypnotize and kidnap young women for the white slavers, and spirit them to the "House of 1000 Dolls."
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
Vincent Price is mostly known for his work in the horror genre. He can be seen working with ghouls, ghosts, and monsters through most of his film career. It was rare if Mr. Price ventured into another genre. Back in 1967, Mr. Price was in the middle of studio contracts when this project known as 'House of 1000 Dolls' came up, which he more or less didn't want to do, but decided to say 'Yes' under his contract. What followed was a fairly interesting story on what happened on set here.
It was stated that Vincent Price filmed all of his scenes, however after he was through, the director went back and filmed his scenes over again with a more pornographic vibe to it. Director Jeremy summers even knew what he was filming would have been banned by the local government, so he hired a gut to dress as Abraham Lincoln to walk around the film set as he handed a copy of some Lincoln script to the locals, just in case anyone want to hassle the filming or filmmakers.
Yes, 'House of 1000 Dolls' is a very sleazy movie, probably the sleaziest picture Mr. Price ever did, and it didn't work on screen with what Summers was trying to convey. The film so desperately wants to be a thriller with a ton of nudity, but the thriller aspect goes away almost immediately and there was no nudity, because the film would rather run off on tangents than stick with any sort of suspense of cohesive plot or show skin. I'd imagine if there's one film Mr. Price could erase off his resume, it would be this one.
'House of 1000 Dolls', not to be confused with 'House of 1000 Corpses', centers on a man named Stephen Armstrong (George Nader) and his wife Marie (Ann Smyrner) who are in the exotic city of Tangiers. The couple run into their old friend who tell them that his girlfriend is missing. Armstrong and his wife agree to help their friend, however their friend is killed shortly thereafter. Sooner than later both Marie and Stephen hit up a night club and witness a popular magician named Felix (Vincent Price) with his on stage assistant Rebecca (Martha Hyer) who hypnotize their audience and perform magic.
They indeed do hypnotize Marie, then drug and kidnap her backstage. When Stephen can't find his wife, he finds out that the magician and his assistant are kidnapping people and giving them to white slave traders. What can a guy do, right? Most of Vincent Price's films have some sort of twist or turn, however with this film, there isn't. It's all plain and simple and there's nothing you can't see coming from a mile away.
There are some decently made segments here with the torture sequences and chase scenes, however it all becomes a silly and jumbled mess by the end. I think Summers was going for something more than what his screenplay and mind allowed for, and it's unfortunate, because this could have been a good movie.
'House of 1000 Dolls' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This film is about fifty years old, and it definitely looks it. This is an obvious upgrade from the past DVD release, but there are a variety of issues, visually speaking with this release. The image is mostly all over the place, fluctuating in different aspects of the presentation throughout.
Detail looks decent once in a while or at least when the scene is well lit in an exterior shot, where the rest of the film, the film is soft looking and somewhat fuzzy. You won't really be able to make out any individual hairs on these iconic actors or see the fine stitching in their costumes at any given moment, but the clarity has definitely improved. There is also some very inconsistent grain from start to finish. This is all over the board here and is at times heavier in the same sequence or still then in other parts of the frame.
Colors never really seem to pop either, although they can look realistic and well-balanced at certain moments, whereas other segments look a little paler. Black levels are never really deep and inky either and look a tiny bit purple, however the skin tones looks good. There were still some dirt, debris and some big scratches that popped up as well, making this video presentation look like it just got the "once over" deal and then signed, sealed, and delivered.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix and has zero subtitles. Overall, the audio presentation sounds decent enough, although there are some issues. The main issue is that during the scenes where there are more than one noise coming through, these sound can sound rough and warped.
This is mainly in the sound effect or heavier action sequences, where things can sound shrilly or like it came from a tin can. This happens throughout the film. It just never has that full immersive soundscape nor does it have any weight to it. Dialogue though is always clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops or cracks.
Audio Commentary - Film historian David Del Valle and B-Movie filmmaker David Decoteau sit down and discuss the production of 'House of 1000 Dolls', which has more than a few interesting stories behind its doors. These two sound great together as they discuss the themes, characters, actors, filmmakers, and trouble the production had making the movie. It's a good listen.
Trailers (HD, 6 Mins.) - Three trailers for different Vincent Price films.
'House of 1000 Dolls' is one of those rare films where Vincent Price stepped out of the horror genre. Unfortunately, it wasn't a very good movie. There are some good things about the film, but instead of trying to keep the suspense or thriller aspect up, they should have stuck with an over-the-top theme. Instead of trying to surprise us, it just makes us laugh. The video and audio presentations could have definitely been better here, and the only real extra is a worthwhile commentary track. If you're a fan of Vincent Price and want to see the sleaziest and most ridiculous movie he made, then consider renting this first and watching it after midnight. Other than that, feel free to skip this one.
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