Someone is murdering beautiful young women in London using creative and dangerous inventions. We witness one of these murders within the first two minutes of the film when a young woman receives a pair of binoculars in the post. As she places them up to her eyes, sharp spikes shoot out and into her eyes, killing her instantly.
She never saw it coming, yuk yuk yuk.
Cut to a conversation between members of Scotland Yard and Edmond Bancroft, a local writer/reporter/author. Bancroft makes reference to Scotland Yard’s museum collection of murder weapons that have been collected of the years. Little does Scotland Yard know that Bancroft has put together his own “Black Museum,” one that contains deadly weapons far superior to anything the Yard has collected.
If you ever visit someone’s basement and it looks like this, run away.
At first it seems obvious that Bancroft is the murderer, as he appears to be purchasing the murder weapons from Aggie, a local shop dealer who specializes in antiques and weapons. Moments later we witness one of the murders taking place (guillotine, swish!) and it’s not Bancroft! What is going on here?!
Soon, the plot is revealed; Bancroft is behind the murders; after committing them he writes about them in his newspaper articles and books. When Aggie figures this out, she gets a pair of ice tongs to the neck; when his psychiatrist figures it out, he gets electrified and then tossed into a vat of acid until nothing remains but his skeleton.
Soon we learn that not only is Bancroft behind the murders, but that he has invented a serum that when administered allows people’s dark side to come out. Bancroft has been injecting this concoction into his young assistant Rick who has been helping him carry out the murders. Just like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bancroft’s magical solution turns Rick temporarily evil and allows him to commit heinous acts of murder, which Bancroft then writes about.
Unfortunately the serum doesn’t also boost Rick’s intelligence. After stabbing his girlfriend (for “knowing too much”) at a local fair (in the Tunnel of Love — nice!), Rick climbs the Ferris Wheel and, before leaping to his death and stabbing Bancroft while landing, shouts, “I did what you told me!”
Based on this sentence, Scotland Yard determines that Bancroft planned the murders, Rick committed them, and the mystery has been solved. The end.
I like old horror movies and Horrors of the Black Museum is no exception. I like the plot device of the mystery writer committing the murders and writing about them. I loved the acting and the sets. All of that was great.
I hated the ending. It reminded me of King Kong, when the police and reporters were just standing around Kong’s corpse, making comments. I don’t think Scotland Yard can close a case based on a single line yelled by a crazed maniac hanging from the Ferris Wheel. Maybe they do, what do I know.
These old horror movies focus more on plot and twists than special effects and gore. It’s almost a different genre, but I like it. Worth watching if you’re into old school horror.
(This review is a part of my month-long October 2014 A-Z Horror Reviews.)