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  House of a Thousand Dolls For The Millionth Time, Stop Exaggerating
Year: 1967
Director: Jeremy Summers
Stars: Vincent Price, Martha Hyer, George Nader, Ann Smyrner, Wolfgang Kieling, Sancho Gracia, Maria Rohm, Luis Rivera, José Jaspe, Juan Olaguivel, Herbert Fux, Yelena Samarina, Diane Bond, Andrea Lascelles, Ursula Janis, Caroline Coon, Karin Skarreso
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: A large and ornate coffin is brought into this mansion in Tangiers and placed in one of the rooms. Magician Felix Manderville (Vincent Price) and his assistant Rebecca (Martha Hyer) order it opened, whereupon the body of a young woman is revealed inside - but she's not dead! She sits up and screams! Meanwhile, across town, husband and wife Stephen Armstrong (George Nader) and Marie (Ann Smyrner) are sitting in an open air café listening to their friend Fernando (Sancho Garcia) who claims his wife Diane (Maria Rohm) has been kidnapped - was she the woman in the coffin?

Another of those Harry Alan Towers thrillers, as opposed to his horrors which looked very similar only with more macabre elements, and as usual an international co-production, this time between Spain and West Germany, House of a Thousand Dolls was distinguished by the presence of Price, here in contractual obligation mode as many of the big names in Towers' movies seemed to be, or seemed to act at any rate. Here he was by far the best reason to watch, even dubbed though thankfully those were the silky tones of Vincent we heard rather than some impostor, as could sometimes be the case in English language versions of foreign flicks.

That Price was playing a magician offered a fun twist on what was your basic white slavery yarn, popular among filmmakers of the sixties wanting a spot of saucy stuff to add to their suspense and action movies, and though there were rumours of a stronger variation of this one for the non-English speaking audiences, that does not appear to be in circulation these days, if indeed it ever existed as an alternate cut of this effort. As this one stands, it was pitched somewhere between one of those crime flicks with a sinister mood that proliferated in Europe in this era, and a dash of James Bond with American import George Nader filling that role.

Nader of course had become a success in Europe after having his career thrown to the lions with gay rumours - it was either him or Rock Hudson who would be sacrificed in the gossip rags, and he does about as well as could be expected here, throwing punches and running about with macho conviction. He always was a little colourless as a leading man, however, but that did not matter so much when the rest of the film around him was never going to get anyone particularly fired up about it one way or the other, it was a simple case of get the girl, or girls in this case, and kill the baddies. Diane has been captured by those people traffickers, and now Stephen is the chap to free the unlucky ladies.

But when anyone else was onscreen but Price, you started to get restless because even in a low rent timewaster like this he contributed a touch of class, whether it was brightening up a boring expositionary conversation by playing catch with a little girl, or performing his magic act with Rebecca, who displays absurd powers of mind reading while blindfolded. Marie is in the audience and is invited up on stage - the villains don't know she is a plant, while she doesn't know quite how far they will go, and when she vanishes in front of the audience she is set for the forced prostitution until Stephen goes backstage and asks where on earth she has got to, necessitating a lot of backpedalling from Manderville and Rebecca. But the goodies aren't out of the woods yet... Price wields a cane with a blade in it which for the grand finale is revealed to fire bullets as well - how come he got the Bond-esque gadget? - and there's a twist at the end which means nothing, leaving a humdrum adventure for star fans. Music by Charles Camilleri.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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