Thursday, August 16, 2007

Dungeon of Harrow (1962): or, Harrow How You Doin'?

DoH features the tannest villain in the annuals of villainy. This guy looks like George Hamilton crossed with the dude that played J. Peterman on Seinfeld. He tends to dress like Hugh Hefner and speak in either quiet soliloquies or piercing shrieks. I speak, of course, of Count DeSade, the monarchial tyrant who rules a few people on a remote island. By “a few people” I mean a giant black dude who affects a turbaned, Sultan-esque look that serves as a general lackey, a hawt young chick that fails to get into any state of undress, and an older lady who tries her best to act like a piece of wood while on screen.

I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Let’s start at the beginning, which is a ship voyage in which our protag Fallon is heading somewhere, we aren’t sure where, it doesn’t matter cause he doesn’t get there. During a killer storm in which the ship’s occupants are tossed like so much detritus, and featuring some of the happiest ship-in-a-storm music ever put to film, the good Fallon gets tossed unceremoniously overboard. Washing up on a beach, and pulled from the surf by the Captain of said vessel, we are given a glimpse of the awesome unintentional humor that this movie is soaked in as we see that Fallon’s pants are dry as a bone, except for the arse. How did this happen to someone being pulled from the ocean? Maybe it’s the magic of the island!

The island, which looks suspiciously like the woods behind a Hollywood soundstage, is inhabited by the nefarious Count DeSade. Little do the Captain and Fallon know what they are in for! They are awoken from sleep by the sound of a pack of ravenous dogs tearing into an unlucky woman. Investigating the next day, they find her mutilated corpse and decide to find out what exactly is going on around here.

It is here that we are treated to our DeSade introduction, and what an introduction it is! DeSade, looking mighty tan and sweaty, is berating his lackey. This quickly devolves into DeSade having a raving breakdown, as he is prone to do, which causes him to start hearing voices. At first I thought this must be Satan talking, but no, instead it is DeSade’s own inner monologue, manifesting itself as a fat man that resembles the ghost of Col. Sanders. This split personality torments poor DeSade, inflicting upon him a rubber cobra, a rubber bat which DeSade grapples with, and finally a gigantic, terrifying rubber spider which has clearly visible wires running from it. This scene is awesome, and really gives us a good indication of the Count’s mental state.

Fallon and the Capt. get shanghaied by the lackey while crossing a field. Fallon employs the most faggy gay homosexual fighting style known to mankind, and ends up going down like a date on prom night to the lackey, who basically shakes him into passing out. Great stuff. Fallon wakes up in the Count’s mansion and we are introduced to the older lady. The rapport between her and Fallon basically sounds like two barristers arguing the legality of obscure Tort laws designed to impugn the general populace of Dunny on the Wode. Seriously, it’s like they are quoting some High Chant dictionary written by druids. The general gist is that Fallon is invited to dine with the Count, which he accepts.

Upon entering the dining room and seating himself, he graciously thanks his host, which causes the Count to fly into an instant, quivering rage. Standing suddenly, he slams his fists down upon the table, shaking and tan, he glares murder at Fallon. The wooden lady goes, “The Count does not tolerate conversation during repast.” Fallon turns to her and goes, “You can tell the Count that he can very well go to Hell!” This ranks right up there with Naschy’s immortal line about bitches in chains. I cheered and applauded at this line, it was just so over the top perfect. Fallon occasionally narrates the movie, and he does so during the quiet dinner, and here we have our 2nd awesome line, “I studied the Count. His eyes bore that glint of paranoid inbreeding.” Indeed!

I’ll stop with the play-by-play now, for I wouldn’t want to give away the secret of the island. Such things you’ll see and discover! The Rack, Chinese Water Torture, windy hallways that nearly blow people down with their force, fog machines that engulf people in sudden blasts of cloudy mist, ever-present handy weapons available on the walls, crazed lepers, the list goes on….

I would give DoH 2 solid thumbs. The transfer is horrid, the audio barely audible, but oh is the dialogue and acting so very much worth it! Tan dictators, wooden mistresses, queer fighting styles, young hawt women being flogged, this movie has it all. No nudity, though, but there are a few spots that I think had them that had obvious cuts. I would jump at the chance to buy an unedited version of this movie that had a better transfer. Highly recommended!


Pearl said...

Has anyone else but me noticed the numerous uncanny coincidences between this film and Roger Corman's "The Terror"?

curiepoint said...

The protag's dialogue and delivery makes Shatner sound like Olivier

Alan Bazin said...

"... suspiciously like the back of a Hollywood sound stage..."

At no time was any moment of this production even in the same state as a Hollywood sound stage, and that should be obvious to anyone who watches this film. You are not seeing how truly low budget this film is...

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