Madhouse (1974)

PG | 89-91 mins | Horror | 4 December 1974

Director:

Jim Clark

Cinematographer:

Ray Parslow

Editor:

Clive Smith

Production Designer:

Tony Curtis

Production Companies:

American International Pictures , Amicus
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HISTORY

A 9 Apr 1970 DV news item announced that American International Pictures purchased the film rights to Angus Hall’s novel Devilday, after having gone into production on Up in the Cellar (1970, see entry), an adaptation of another novel by Hall. As stated in a 9 Apr 1970 HR brief, Vincent Price was slated to star in the film, and Robert Fuest was slated to direct. However, a 1 Jun 1973 HR report named Jim Clark as the director and referred to the film by its working title, The Revenge of Dr. Death. Location shooting took place in London, England.
       Though an 8 Feb 1974 DV news brief announced that the film was scheduled to open 1 May 1974 in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the release was later set for 4 Dec 1974.
       Prior to Madhouse, Price starred in twenty-two films for American International Pictures, as stated in a 5 Nov 1973 Box report. Several clips from Price’s earlier American International films were used in Madhouse, including The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), and Scream and Scream Again (1970, see entries). According to a 15 Apr 1974 HR news item, “When Day Is Done,” the recorded song that plays over the final sequence of the film and end credits, was sung by Price.
       The screenplay was Greg Morrison’s first, according to a 17 Apr 1973 DV news brief. Morrison previously worked as a film publicist.
...

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A 9 Apr 1970 DV news item announced that American International Pictures purchased the film rights to Angus Hall’s novel Devilday, after having gone into production on Up in the Cellar (1970, see entry), an adaptation of another novel by Hall. As stated in a 9 Apr 1970 HR brief, Vincent Price was slated to star in the film, and Robert Fuest was slated to direct. However, a 1 Jun 1973 HR report named Jim Clark as the director and referred to the film by its working title, The Revenge of Dr. Death. Location shooting took place in London, England.
       Though an 8 Feb 1974 DV news brief announced that the film was scheduled to open 1 May 1974 in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the release was later set for 4 Dec 1974.
       Prior to Madhouse, Price starred in twenty-two films for American International Pictures, as stated in a 5 Nov 1973 Box report. Several clips from Price’s earlier American International films were used in Madhouse, including The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), and Scream and Scream Again (1970, see entries). According to a 15 Apr 1974 HR news item, “When Day Is Done,” the recorded song that plays over the final sequence of the film and end credits, was sung by Price.
       The screenplay was Greg Morrison’s first, according to a 17 Apr 1973 DV news brief. Morrison previously worked as a film publicist.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
CREDIT TYPE
CREDIT
General (mod):
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Nov 1973
---
Box Office
4 Mar 1974
p. 4667
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1970
---
Daily Variety
19 May 1970
---
Daily Variety
26 Nov 1971
---
Daily Variety
13 Apr 1973
---
Daily Variety
17 Apr 1973
---
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1974
---
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1974
---
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1974
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1970
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1973
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jun 1973
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 1973
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1974
p. 3, 22
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1974
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Dec 1974
---
Variety
1 Dec 1971
---
Variety
27 Mar 1974
p. 24
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Prod mgr
Allan James
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Pres/Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Const mgr
COSTUMES
Ward mistress
MUSIC
Orig mus comp and cond
Song written and performed by
SOUND
Sd rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Chief make-up
Chief hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Continuity
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Devilday by Angus Hall (New York, 1969).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Revenge of Dr. Death
Release Date:
4 December 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 Dec 1974
Production Date:
14 May--late Jun 1973 in London
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastmancolor
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
89-91
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23751
SYNOPSIS

On New Year’s Eve, in Hollywood, California, partygoers attend a screening of a film featuring the character “Dr. Death” at the home of the actor who plays him, Paul Toombes. Paul addresses the crowd and thanks the screenwriter, a former actor named Herbert Flay, who stands amongst them. When Paul introduces his new fiancée, Ellen Mason, a former co-star of Paul’s, Faye Carstairs, approaches the couple, complaining that she never got a ring from him. Ellen presents Paul with an engraved pocket watch, and Oliver Quayle, a film producer, sarcastically congratulates her for “holding out” until marriage. Quayle informs Paul that Ellen used to perform in pornographic films. Reacting angrily, Paul insults his fiancée, sending her away in tears. Elsewhere in the house, a man dons leather gloves and removes a knife from its case. He sneaks into Ellen’s room wearing Dr. Death’s costume – a tuxedo with a black cape, mask, and slouch hat – and jumps at her from behind a curtain. At midnight, Paul awakens from a nap, finds a black leather glove beside him, and sees the shadow of the man wearing a brimmed hat. Paul wanders into Ellen’s room and finds her decapitated. After a nervous breakdown, he wakes up in a hospital where a nurse asks if he committed the crime, but Paul cannot answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Several years later, in London, England, Quayle tells Julia Wilson, a public relations executive, about Paul’s reaction to Ellen’s death, saying the actor could no longer separate himself from his character and habitually wandered Sunset Boulevard dressed in the Dr. Death costume. After he was released from a mental institution, his career was ...

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On New Year’s Eve, in Hollywood, California, partygoers attend a screening of a film featuring the character “Dr. Death” at the home of the actor who plays him, Paul Toombes. Paul addresses the crowd and thanks the screenwriter, a former actor named Herbert Flay, who stands amongst them. When Paul introduces his new fiancée, Ellen Mason, a former co-star of Paul’s, Faye Carstairs, approaches the couple, complaining that she never got a ring from him. Ellen presents Paul with an engraved pocket watch, and Oliver Quayle, a film producer, sarcastically congratulates her for “holding out” until marriage. Quayle informs Paul that Ellen used to perform in pornographic films. Reacting angrily, Paul insults his fiancée, sending her away in tears. Elsewhere in the house, a man dons leather gloves and removes a knife from its case. He sneaks into Ellen’s room wearing Dr. Death’s costume – a tuxedo with a black cape, mask, and slouch hat – and jumps at her from behind a curtain. At midnight, Paul awakens from a nap, finds a black leather glove beside him, and sees the shadow of the man wearing a brimmed hat. Paul wanders into Ellen’s room and finds her decapitated. After a nervous breakdown, he wakes up in a hospital where a nurse asks if he committed the crime, but Paul cannot answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Several years later, in London, England, Quayle tells Julia Wilson, a public relations executive, about Paul’s reaction to Ellen’s death, saying the actor could no longer separate himself from his character and habitually wandered Sunset Boulevard dressed in the Dr. Death costume. After he was released from a mental institution, his career was ruined by rumors that he murdered Ellen. Julia wonders if Paul is innocent, but Quayle assures her otherwise. He instructs her to meet Paul at a harbor when his cruise ship arrives in London and tells her to make sure he gets his picture taken by newspaper photographers. On the ship, Elizabeth Peters, a buxom fan, sneaks into Paul’s room and wakes him up. She knows he is headed to England to perform in a Dr. Death television series and wants a chance to act alongside him. Though Elizabeth threatens Paul and suggests he cannot withstand another scandal involving a young female, he throws her out. The next day, Paul tells a steward he lost his pocket watch and will pay a reward to the finder. Photographers crowd around the actor as he disembarks, and Elizabeth appears, angling to be included in the pictures. Julia approaches, sending the photographers away, and Paul takes an immediate liking to her. That day, a chauffeur delivers Paul to the home of Herbert Flay, who greets him at the door. Inside, Flay attempts a toast to Dr. Death, but Paul refuses, saying he did not want to play the role anymore but agreed to do it as a favor to Flay, who claimed he needed the money. Flay confesses he lied about needing money in order to force Paul to come to London and stop living in the past. Paul says he is terrified of what the character may do to him, but Flay ignores the comment and suggests they watch one of their old films. As a scene plays in which Dr. Death undergoes hypnosis, Paul becomes hypnotized as well. Meanwhile, Elizabeth sneaks onto Flay’s estate. The film ends, and Paul snaps out of his daze, spotting Elizabeth outside. Somewhere in the house, a man dons black leather gloves, while Elizabeth searches for Paul. In a forest near the house, the black-gloved man spears Elizabeth’s neck with a pitchfork and sends her corpse down a river in a canoe. That night, Paul follows the sound of a record player to Flay’s basement where Faye Carstairs pounces on him. He pushes her away, causing her wig to fall off and reveal her mangled, bald head. Though he does not recognize his former co-star, Faye reminds him that she acted in a Dr. Death film involving spiders and Paul suddenly notices tarantulas all around them. Faye recounts that after Ellen’s death, she married Flay. She admits to being unfaithful to her husband, and says that once, some men beat her and set her car on fire, disfiguring her. The following day, two children spot Elizabeth’s body floating down the river. Elizabeth’s Aunt Louise and Uncle Alfred inform Bradshaw, a detective, that they were her caretakers. At breakfast, Paul demands to know why Flay kept his wife a secret. Flay explains that Faye is nocturnal, and he thought Paul might be upset to see her. Later, he and Flay visit the office of Quayle, the producer of the Dr. Death television series. Quayle reminds the actor that they met at his New Year’s Eve party years ago. At Bradshaw’s office, his colleague, Inspector Harper, finds the detective studying a Dr. Death film portraying a murder similar to Elizabeth’s. On the set of the television show, Quayle introduces Paul to his co-star, Carol Clayton, who will play Dr. Death’s assistant. Shooting a scene, Paul breaks character and reprimands Carol when she moves too slowly. At a cast and crew party, an old film of Paul’s is screened. Frustrated by her co-star’s attitude, Carol heads to a rec room to play pinball. Paul appears to become hypnotized by the film and walks out of the room. Meanwhile, a man dressed as Dr. Death turns the lights off in the rec room and murders Carol while a similar scene plays onscreen. Julia finds Carol hanged and screams, alerting the rest of the partygoers. Paul returns to Flay’s house and tells Faye that Dr. Death killed someone at the party that night, concerned it may have been him. A detective forces Quayle to wear the glove left at the murder scene and it fits perfectly, but Quayle argues that Paul must have killed Carol. As Paul attempts to leave Flay’s house with his bags, Bradshaw and Harper stop him outside, demanding he come to Scotland Yard for questioning. At the office, Paul tries on the glove and it fits. They ask if he has a history of “mental instability,” and Paul admits he feels haunted by the Dr. Death character. Returning to Flay’s house, Paul finds Louise and Alfred, Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle, in the garden, dangling the pocket watch that Ellen gave him. They blackmail Paul for £10,000, threatening that if he does not pay, they will provide the watch as evidence that he killed Elizabeth. Back on the set, Paul agrees to help the director by operating a mechanized canopy bed while the director lies on it and instructs the actor. When Paul pushes the ‘start’ button on a remote control, two metal cuffs latch onto the director’s wrists and the canopy lowers; however, when the director tells Paul to push the ‘stop’ button, the mechanism does not respond and the bed crushes and kills him. Returning to Flay’s house, Paul runs into Alfred and Louise and pushes them away, causing Alfred to lose the pocket watch in the grass. On the set, Inspector Harper explains that someone rigged the bed, intending to kill Paul. Suspicious of Quayle, Julia searches his office. In Flay’s garden, a gloved hand picks up the pocket watch, and Alfred and Louise follow the murderer into Flay’s house. Leading them upstairs, he pierces both their bodies with one sword. Over the phone, Julia asks Paul to meet her in his dressing room in thirty minutes. After Paul has left for the television studio, Faye sneaks into his bedroom and finds Alfred and Louise’s corpses in a closet. In his dressing room, Paul sees the murderer, dressed as Dr. Death, behind him. He flees downstairs, and the killer chases him onto the rigged canopy bed; however, Paul breaks free from the wrist cuffs and runs into the elevator. On another floor, he enters a television studio where he is expected for an interview. The television interviewer welcomes Paul, stating that he is early. He introduces a Dr. Death clip, and Paul looks around the studio for the murderer as it plays. Quayle appears at an entrance and watches from behind the audience. After finding Paul’s dressing room empty, Julia breaks into Quayle’s office again and finds a contract naming Paul’s replacement in the Dr. Death television series in case of his demise. She looks up from the desk to find the murderer standing over her and runs, but he corners her in an elevator. Soon after, Quayle re-enters the studio where Paul is being interviewed. While another film clip plays, Paul disappears. Returning to his dressing room, he finds Julia dead and remembers the time he found Ellen after her murder. Moments later, Bradshaw and Harper inspect the dressing room, while Paul carries Julia’s corpse to the set. Talking to the corpse as if it is Ellen, Paul explains that he and Flay created Dr. Death together after looking inside their own souls and finding the character there. He trains the television cameras on the set, then lights it on fire, acting out his final scene and calling it “The Death of Dr. Death.” He douses himself in alcohol and lets the flames consume him. One day, in Quayle’s office, Flay signs a contract to act as Paul’s replacement, and Quayle presents him with the film of Paul’s final performance, “The Death of Dr. Death.” At home, Flay wears Dr. Death’s costume and watches the film. As Paul approaches the camera onscreen, he appears in the room, burned but still alive. Paul questions Flay, who admits he wrote Dr. Death for himself but the studio wanted Paul to play the character. Flay killed Ellen to get rid of Paul, but it didn’t work, so he wrote his own contract on the Dr. Death television series, stipulating that he would assume the role in the event of Paul’s death. Flay chases Paul into the basement with a sword, but Paul fights back with a candelabrum. After Flay strikes it away, Faye Carstairs appears behind Flay and stabs him in the back, sending him into her pit of spiders. Sometime later, spiders crawl in and out of Flay’s decayed corpse while Paul applies Dr. Death makeup before a mirror in the basement. Paul swivels his chair, and Flay, alive again, appears in his place. Upstairs, Flay, dressed as Dr. Death, joins Faye for dinner. She announces that she is serving his favorite, “sour cream with red herrings.”

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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