Though perhaps not as iconic as their Dracula and Frankenstein pictures, this quartet of fright flicks from England's Hammer Films deliver enough Saturday afternoon creature feature thrills to please devotees of the legendary studio's output and vintage horror fans alike. 1964's The Gorgon will be the title to attract the most immediate attention due to the presence of Hammer's biggest stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, in its cast, and its most celebrated director, Terence Fisher, behind the camera. It's an atmospheric and offbeat entry in the Hammer canon, with one of its most unusual villains: a snake-haired fiend from Greek mythology who turns men into stone. Cushing and Lee are typically fine (both are on the side of the angels for once), and the picture's sole stumbling block is the lackluster makeup for its monster. Lee is also present in supporting roles in two other films in the collection: Scream of Fear (1961), one of several competent psychological suspense features made by Hammer in the wake of Psycho, with Susan Strasberg as a fragile young woman plagued by terrible visions and a house full of suspicious types; and Fisher's The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), a revamp of the Stevenson story with Paul Massie as the dour scientist whose personality experiments unleash a virile but unhinged alter ego. Hardcore Hammer aficionados will be thrilled to discover that the DVD version is uncut and preserves much of the (mildly) salacious material trimmed for its release in America under the title House of Fright. The final film on Icons of Horror is Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, with Hammer exec Michael Carreras (son of company founder James Carreras) behind the camera for a featherweight monster romp that doesn't hold a candle to Terence Fisher's Mummy in 1959. Unlike previous Icons of Horror DVDs, the supplemental features here are slim--just the theatrical trailers for each film--though they do offer their own degree of charm, especially the ballyhoo-heavy tone of Mummy and the oddly elegant and unnerving preview for Scream of Fear, which is centered solely around an image of Strasberg's face. --Paul Gaita
The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb When European Egyptologists Dubois, Giles and Bray discover the tomb of the Egyptian prince Ra, American entrepreneur and investor Alexander King insists on shipping the treasures and sarcophagus back to England for tour and display. Once there, someone with murderous intent has discovered the means of waking the centuries dead prince...
Scream of Fear After narrowly surviving an accident in which she nearly drowned, the wheelchair bound Penny Appleby returns home to live with her widowed step-mother Jane on the French Riviera. She begins to question her sanity after several times seeing her father's corpse around the house and its grounds, and enlists the help of the friendly chauffeur Bob while attending Doctor Gerrard acts in a suitably sinister manner. No one is who they seem in this tale of intrigue and suspense.
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll Dr. Henry Jekyll experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.
The Gorgon In early-twentieth-century middle-Europe, villagers are literally becoming petrified. Although the authorities try to hush the matter up it is apparent that at the full moon, Medusa leaves her castle lair and anyone looking on her face is turned to stone. When this fate befalls a visitor, experts from the University of Leipzig arrive to try and get to the bottom of it all.
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