Count on London

The first death is Horrors of the Black Museum’s most famous. After opening a mysterious package, a woman uses the binoculars she finds within, only to have her eyes gouged out by the needles hidden inside. Later, another victim is beheaded by a guillotine over her bed (she somehow didn’t notice), and a man is electrocuted, then dissolved.

There’s plenty to discuss regarding Horrors of the Black Museum’s murders, mostly because this chintzy British production doesn’t offer much else. Starring Michael Gough (who would soon star in the equally pitiful Konga a few years later, finally finding international fame as Alfred in 1989’s Batman) as an author of salacious murder novels, the film meanders around London, waiting for the marketable deaths.

There’s plenty to discuss regarding Horrors of the Black Museum’s murders

Gough is fantastic, for what it’s worth, projecting a British arrogance as he taunts local police with his knowledge. Soon, Horrors of the Black Museum drifts back to the ‘30s and ‘40s, with a mad scientist lair, a lab assistant, and a wall-sized computer made up of blinking lights (which does nothing other than look nice, best as the script can tell).

Horrors of the Black Museum exists because it’s a concept and title easily exploited in the late ‘50s, complete with an otherwise pointless, sexually suggestive dance sequence featuring a blonde woman in a tight red dress. It’s grisly, in so far as cinema could be in 1959, and hinges on a twist that’s obvious in the first 20-minutes. No one entered the theater to see engaging mystery though; they were promised kills, and that’s what they got.

Sensationally absurd, it took Hollywood decades to find more creative ways to end people in various franchises, so Horrors of the Black Museum has that going for it. Otherwise, it’s cinematic nonsense, with no central logic in which to follow or trust. It’s more akin to cartoon mayhem with a slight (the slightest, actually) adult edge.


From what appears to be a recent scan, VCI’s Horrors of the Black Museum shows excellent resolution. A hefty grain structure is retained, allowing texture to shine, especially in close. The encode, while not flawless, does hold together to ensure a generally filmic aesthetic. Print damage is uncommon.

Color becomes the real downer, clearly faded and flat due to the age. Flesh tones are pale enough to worry about the health of the actors, and primaries reduce to near pastels. That is, everything except red; that glows, and appears out of place as a result. Along with the color, contrast fades as well, clipping in places and reducing the image’s dimension. At least the black levels retain their natural density.


PCM mono is the codec choice, and unfortunately, the volume imbalance is extreme. The score registers numerous decibels higher than the dialog. There isn’t an issue of fidelity; for 1959, it’s firm. During the first kill, the score overpowers the dialog, rendering the lines near a total loss. In general and without music, Horrors of the Black Museum sounds fine.


A commentary from producer Herman Cohen is joined by a second commentary featuring historian Robert Kelly. Cohen returns for a separate interview feature, and a tribute featurette. Actress Shirley Anne Field is interviewed, and an archival phone interview with star Michael Gough follows. Promo materials finish this one out.

On a side note, while the reversible cover art is nifty, the text gives away the story (even if it’s obvious early), lists the incorrect runtime, and claims Horrors of the Black Museum is rated R (it’s unrated).

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Horrors of the Black Museum
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 31 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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