The Terror (1963)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/3/14
Director: Roger Corman
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Boris Karloff, Sandra Knight

A French lieutenant named Andre (Jack Nicholson) gets lost and encounters a strange, but enchanting woman (Sandra Knight) who attempts to lead him to his death. He chases her to a creepy castle inhabited by the elderly baron Victor Von Leppe (Boris Karloff), who after much questioning reveals that the woman is actually the ghost of the departed baroness Ilsa Von Leppe. Her spirit wishes to be free, but the price of her freedom is too dreadful for the baron to contemplate. Andre also wishes for Ilsa's freedom, but for purely lascivious reasons. Things get convoluted and confusing towards the end as the stakes are raised and everyone shows their hand, but the film ends on a satisfying note.

While it's definitely a low budget thriller, it's also one of Corman's better outings. Even his pal Francis Ford Coppola helped produce it. The aged Boris Karloff is delightful as the baron, while a VERY young Jack Nicholson gives a stiff and uninspired performance. The fact that he's playing a French soldier makes his performance seem even more ridiculous. Sandra Knight is lovely and appropriately bewitching. The music is tense and the lighting is moody and creepy. The film looks good and the castle sets are quite impressive. Apparently they were re-used from Corman's production of "The Fall Of The House Of Usher" several years before. An entertaining outing, especially for Karloff and Nicholson fans.