Horrors Of The Black Museum (1959) (DVD review).

June 18, 2015 | By | Reply More

Firstly, after watching this film, would anyone like to tell me if they were hypnotised, even mildly, by the hypnotist Emile Franchel in the first quarter of any hour of this film’ Horrors Of The Black Museum’ aka Crime In The Museum Of Horrors’. It was a dark evening and I was relaxed when watching but didn’t fall under his spell, not even to have a mutual yawn with him.


For the life of me, I couldn’t see the use of hynovision in the main part of the film because it was done with a drug although I doubt if anyone in 1959 would have made that connection. Why not have a warning against hypno-drugs instead because they must surely have been around at the time.

Crime and thriller writer Edmond Bancroft (actor Michael Gough) has a secret black museum of murder weapons that rivals that of the one owned by Scotland Yard and wants to emulate the original crimes. After the discovery of a woman blinded and killed by spiked binoculars, Super-Inspector Graham (actor Geoffrey Keen) with Bancroft independently seeks the murderer. The only difference being that Bancroft knows who was the murderer, even by proxy.

Another murder occurs when Joan Berkley (actress June Cunningham), Bancroft’s girlfriend who berates his unwillingness to marry, after a visit to a bar, goes home to bed and beheaded by a portable guillotine by Bancroft’s assistant, Rick (actor Graham Curnow). What better way to conceal the crime and make Bancroft look like he himself is becoming a target. After the murder of Bancroft’s physician, Doctor Ballam (actor Gerald Anderson) who comes to see him, telling him he knows he’s the murderer, it is revealed that Bancroft is controlling Rick by drugs not hypnotism. Unknown to Bancroft, Rick also has a girl-friend, Angela Banks (actress Shirley Anne Field), whom he shows their museum to and gets berated over it. After all, it is supposed to be secret. So much so, Bancroft orders Rick to execute her and that causes the final solution.

That should give enough about the plot without giving too many spoilers. One has to remember naivety still existed at the time. Some of it still exists today. I mean, would you go to the home of a murderer, tell them you know that they are a murderer and expect them to not kill you? Hmmm…I think I’ve seen that happen in modern films as well, maybe stupidity or greed exists in people who think they can control murderers. Bancroft is a real cold-blooded monster who wants to shape the world and how it reacts around himself. The UK version is somewhat been subdued compared to the US version which this issue was bought. Even so, it wasn’t considered as a standard horror film because the murders were based on real events that Bancroft wanted to re-enact to match his black museum. I suspect a lot of people held binoculars gingerly for a while afterwards and has been used in a couple of films since. An odd curio of how murder used to be done.

GF Willmetts

June 2015

(region 1 DVD: pub: Cheezy Flicks Entertainment, 2001. 93 minute film. Price: about £ 1.18 (UK) if you know where to look. ASIN: 01-008)

cast: Michael Gough, Geoffrey Keen, June Cunningham, Graham Curnow and Shirley Ann Field

check out website: www.ChezzyFlicks.com


Category: Horror, MEDIA

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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