This is one of the less-remembered Vincent Price films of the 1970’s, and nowhere near as celebrated as the Phibes films, or the excellent Theatre Of Blood. Still, this movie, while inferior to these examples, is pretty good on it’s own. The film deals with a horror actor named Paul Tombs (Price), who’s become famous by playing a character named Dr. Death. One night, after a happy premiere, his fiancée is mysteriously murdered, beheaded, and Tombs is accused of the murder. So, he goes off to an asylum where he spends a couple of years, only to return and see that his horrific creation is alive and well in pop culture. With a new TV series planned, Tombs decides to return to the genre, thanks to the advice of his writer and old friend, played by Peter Cushing. But soon the murders occur again. Is it Tombs, or has somebody else put on the mantle of Dr. Death?
The movie is a juggernaut when it comes to the acting. Vincent Price is excellent in his role, bringing the same class and talent that he was known for. His scenes with Peter Cushing and Robert Quarry are an actor’s dream, and his solo monologue before commiting his ‘suicide by fire’ is nothing short of amazing. Peter Cushing is also excellent, although I felt that in the end he was over-acting quite a bit. It’s still really fun to see them both go at it in the final fight scene. There are a lot of beautiful women, the standout being Linda Hayden, famous for her naked role in Blood From Satan’s Claw and Taste The Blood Of Dracula, and she looks exactly the same here as she did on those movies. No nudity, sadly. Adrienne Curry (Clockwork Orange, Vampire Circus) is beautiful too, and for some reason she also looks beautiful to me after her deforming accident, looking like a New Waver long before there was such a thing. The murders are sadly nowhere near as entertaining as they were in Phibes and Theatre Of Blood, but they’re still pretty fun to watch, particularly the director who gets himself crushed by a mechanical bed.
The movie was done by AIP and Amicus, although it looks like something out of a Roger Corman picture, with the same kinds of lights and tinting cinematography. We get to see a lot of stock footage from old Price films, the best being the stuff from The Haunted Palace which features Dr. Death spliced in to look like he was a part of the movie. The ending’s burning finale is also a staple of Corman/Price’s adaptations. This is a very memorable and entertaining 70’s horror film that, although riddled with clichés, sports a good cast and is very entertaining.