Halloween Horrors 50 for 31: Dungeon of Harrow

October 8, 2011 at 2:07 am Leave a comment

I really needed a movie like Dungeon of Harrow to come along. At least in this series of movies from the Pure Terror box set. I am coming off two very boring movies. Movies that really don’t entertain me as a fan of bad movies. Movies that couldn’t have been considered good by most measures. I was worried that I’d be stuck struggling for commentary on boring but not bad movies. The Dungeon of Harrow comes to brighten my day. For most people, it would darken their doorstep.

Quickly, I will offer a plot synopsis since there is a lot to get to and I want us all to be on the same page when I share some of the fun for you. Fallon is a nobel from the House of Fallon. His problem is that while on a 1870’s cruise ship with his dad the weather started getting rough and the tiny ship was tossed. So Fallon and the Captain are shipwrecked on this desert isle. They stumble across the Count who lives with his black man servant who looks like Dennis Rodman, another lady servant named Cassandra, and a young girl he likes to pick on named Ann. The Captain has turned up missing and the count assures Fallon that he is dead but Fallon isn’t sure he is being told the truth. So he pokes around looking for the Captain and sees him in a dream. When he grills Cassandra about his dream she lets him know the Captain is alive. Also he learns that the Count is completely insane because his wife has leprosy. That is why they are all on this deserted isle in a castle. By the way, I would like to know who built this castle. I don’t think Rodman could have built the place by himself. Anyway, Fallon tries to get Ann to free the Captain but that doesn’t work and Ann ends up on the torture rack. Now Fallon and Cassandra just want off the island. But the Count catches them making their plans and locks Fallon up in the dungeon with the leopard  Countess. Cassandra comes to the rescue, slaying the Countess. They go on the run and get hunted down by the Count. When backed in a corner, Fallon puts up a fight, killing the Count. Oh, and Rodman is killed by the Count during the hunt because he broke his leg and disobeyed the Counts orders to get up. So when help arrives, they won’t pick up Fallon and Cassandra because they now have leprosy.

That probably sounds infinately more interesting than this movie really is. This movie is laugh out loud bad. It starts out with the shipwreck, which is just a toy boat in a pan of water being splashed around that runs repeatedly into some rocks. The whole movie has voice over narration that is monotone, horribly inaccurate when describing what we are seeing, and very long winded. It was as if the Ultimate Warrior wrote a Victorian era promo. The treatment of the Rodman like assistant is so incredibly racist it makes me wish that Black Dynamite would show up and show this honkey what’s happening.  There are few times when I say Mystery Science Theater missed the boat on a movie but they really should have made this one an episode.

The acting in this movie is truly dreadful. I haven’t seen anything like it since Troll 2. The inflection on the lines is way off. All of the dialogue seems more like an exact recital of the way the lines were written, with no sense of ownership or character what so ever. Like when Cassandra tells the story about the Countess having leprosy and the Count being driven mad by the whole ordeal.  She drones through the story like she was reading the manual that came with her stereo. Fallon responds with something to the effect of “My God that’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever heard.” You would think that he had just heard there was a new flavor of Dr. Pepper with the way he delivered those lines. The Count’s acting is so ham-fisted that it is hilarious at most moments. And it’s not like his over the top delivering adds any character to his dialogue. He’s just trying to be bold and flamboyant all the time, regardless of what he is saying or what the meaning is suppose to be.  One may mistake that for an attempt at acting but he is just hamming it up. The whole movie is like a read through of the script with really long winded lines.

The cinematography is down right ugly. The film stock they used must have been left over and sitting around in the sun for too long. Its so grainy that the screen feels like sand paper if you touch the screen during the movie. The colors radically change in the middle of a scene. Either it was a bad transfer or somehow the color of the lighting changed. Seconds of frames drop out like a silent film or something except  there is no card with words on it. These were some very amateur film makers and sadly I have seen a lot of movies filmed in a similar way. It’s a hallmark of bad movies.

The production values here are really cheap. The scene every bad movie fan will love is when our special guest star makes his five minute appearance that has no bearing what so ever on the film. I think he is suppose to be the devil. At least that is what is implied. Anyway, the devil uses the cheapest gimmicks to scare the Count. No doubt the Halloween party you attend this year will have better effects. First he makes a cobra appear, which is the cheapest dime store rubber snake you ever saw. Next, he throws a cardboard bat at the Count, which looks like the one my mom used to use for window decoration when I was a kid. Next, he has a giant rubber spider drop from the ceiling on the Count. You can see the strings and everything. And as his final trick or treat, he covers the count in webbing. Is he strong? Listen bub, he has radioactive blood. It’s too bad the devil wasn’t a bigger part of this movie. He is by far the best actor. The sets look like they were borrowed from the local community theater. The movie was probably shot there too since it sounds like it was on a sound stage.

The one scene that is well done in the movie is when Fallon is locked up with the Countess. See, she is crazy so she relives her wedding night every night. Well, for all the bad effects in this movie, the Countess looks really creepy in her leopard make up.  It was kind of gross to see her try to make out with Fallon.

I could probably go on longer but I think I have made myself clear. If you enjoy watching bad movies like I do, this is right up your alley. The mistakes they make are wildly entertaining. Dungeon of Harrow is one of those fun to watch bad movies that has a lot to keep you laughing.  And apparently, you can watch the whole thing from the Dungeon of Harrow imdb page.

http://www.imdb.com/video/hulu/vi46636313/

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