The Terror – 1963

Tagline: “There’s No Rest For The Wicked…”

I thought long and hard about which film I would write about first in this blog.  Of course I had to choose a Roger Corman picture because hey, when you want a B-movie done right, Mr. Corman is the man you call.

“The Terror” is set in 18th Century France.  Somehow separated from his regiment, Lieutenant Andre Duvalier (Jack Nicholson) finds himself wandering along the coastline on horseback. He stumbles upon a young woman named Helene (Sandra Knight), who surprisingly to him (but not so much to us) does not seem to respond to any of his queries.  Her expression seems bland, almost dead-like in a way, and she vanishes and reappears whenever she likes.  Hmmm….wonder what that could mean!  Andre comes across an old woman (Dorothy Neuman) who lives in a shack of a cabin in the woods, and she denies the existence of such a young woman…of course.  Andre soon finds out that Helene’s spirit is damned (shocking) and the only way to save her is to visit the nearby castle inhabited by Baron Victor Von Leppe (Boris Karloff).  The Baron and his butler Stefan (Dick Miller) are quite hospitable, and then not so hospitable.  They are not big fans of outsiders. Baron Von Leppe reveals to Andre that Helene is actually the Baroness Ilsa Von Leppe.  The only problem?  Yup, you guessed it, she’s been dead for 20 years!  WHAT?  Didn’t see that coming (insert sarcasm here).

From this point on, adventure ensues!  Hooray!  There’s a whole smorgasbord of cheesy one-liners, ghosts possessing the living, secret passageways with staircases that you can only access by the hidden lever disguised as a wall sconce…what more could you ask for?  Oh wait, did you say you’d like to see a man get his eyes pecked out by a demon bird and then stumble off the edge of a cliff because he can’t see???  Well then, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

It was truly exciting for me to watch this film.  I’ve been a fan of the actors of this era (such as Lorre, Price, Lugosi) for quite some time.  That being said, I’m 33 years old which means one of my first experiences seeing Jack Nicholson was watching him portray The Joker in “Batman”.  So as you can imagine it was an extra special (and bizarre) experience for me to see him as a young 26-year-old starring opposite the great Boris Karloff!

Interesting side note:  The Second Unit Director and Associate Producer of this film was Francis Ford Coppola.

This film has the perfect mix of classic acting, slight goofiness, cheesy sets and great storytelling.  As of the date of this post, “The Terror” is playing on Netflix instant streaming and a couple people have posted the full length feature on YouTube as well.  So if you like old classics, I highly recommend this one.

If you want to learn more about “The Terror”, check out the IMDB page here:

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