Summer of Forgotten Horror – Week 14: Master of Horror (1965)
Cast: Narciso Ibanez Menta as Dr. Eckstrom/John Samivet
Osvaldo Pacheco as Henry Valdemar
Ines Moreno as Teresa Samivet
Carlos Estrada as Maurice Falpront
Plot: An anthology of two classic tales from the horror master Edgar Allan Poe. In the first story, The Case of M. Valdemar, Narciso Ibanez Menta stars as hypnotist Dr. Eckstrom who believes he can keep the dying Henry Valdemar alive. Just as Valdemar is on the brink of death, Eckstrom hypnotizes him. In attempt to prove to his doubting colleagues, he eventually brings Valdemar out of his hypnotized state with horrific results. In our second tale, A Cask of Amontillado, Menta is John Samivet, a man more concerned with his winery than his young wife Teresa. When a stranger comes to the village, love is in the air. But Samivet has a devious plot in mind for both of the lovers.
Personal Thoughts: At just an hour long and with only two stories, this barely qualifies as an anthology. Each tale is about 30 minutes in length, adding up for a brisk running time. It’s actually quite well done for a lower budget film but with a 1965 date, it seems to be more suited for circa 1960. It should then come as no surprise that it was actually made in 1959 as Obras Maestras del Terror, featured three stories and clocked in much closer to a two hour running time. Master of Horror is the Americanized version, cutting the third tale, which was The Tell-Tale Heart, along with excising about 15 minutes of footage from the two stories presented here. That said, it is enjoyable if not a little forgettable. The voice of Valdemar is especially creepy and a scene of Teresa’s death, spoiled in the movie poster, is actually surprising. Well, it would have been if you avoid the trailer and the poster. The wrap around story of a maid reading the stories while a black cat sets the stage well enough. Not necessarily a classic but worth watching at least once. It might be fun to watch the original to see what Menta and Carreras had intended.
- Menta is actually credited with three characters despite only playing two in this version.
- Watch a clip from The Tell-Tale Heart sequence on YouTube. Dubbing sounds a little odd but it is fun to see what should have been included in this version. The Tell-Tale Heart is actually nearly 45 minutes long in the original and is the third story, so it was clearly intended to be the primary focus of the film.
Availability: Master of Horror has never been released commercially but is available from Sinister Cinema. The unedited original, Obras Maestras del Terror, is available on YouTube but in Spanish with no subtitles. However, it gives a glimpse at what appears to have been a horror flick on a much grander scale. That said, Master of Horror is nice way to end the Summer of Forgotten Horror series.