A message from Woody Allen:
One day you, too, are going to die... in the past six installments of They Died in September 2012 we have presented people, both known and unknown, who worked in the film industry that have beaten you to it. One day, you'll join then – so enjoy yourself why you still can – but will you leave half as much behind, or have you a wasted life?
Among those that died in September 2012 were at least three names whose careers are impossible to encapsulate in but a few films. The first, Stanley Long, has a separate entry here at A Wasted Life, while the third, Turhan Bey, closes the entire series of They Died in September 2012. But the second "Big One" to go in September – for us here at A Wasted Life, in any event – was this man here, Herbert Lom... and because he has so many films to his name that we find worth presenting, Part VII is dedicated to the (dead) man alone.
As always, when it comes to all the films he took part in, the list is hardly 50% complete...
May he rest in peace.
11 September 1917 – 27 September 2012
Herbert Lom, the Czech-born British actor possibly best known for his regular role as Inspector Clouseau's (Peter Sellers) "long-suffering" boss in the original Pink Panther movies died in his sleep in London, England, 16 days after his 95th birthday. Over the course of his 60-year career he appeared in well over 100 films, many of which are either favorites of ours or at least of the kind we here at A Wasted Life tend to like. Born Herbert Karel Angelo Kuchacevic ze Schluderpacheru in one of the most beautiful cities of the world, Prague, on 11 September 1917, Lom started his career in the Czech film Zena pod krízem (1937), but fled the country for England two years later in 1939 in a pre-emptive escape from the invasion of National Socialist Germany. In England he met with success, though his career was possibly minutely hampered by his initial inability to get a work visa for the USA; nevertheless, by the time of his never-announced retirement – his last film appearance was the 2004 TV movie Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage (first 10 minutes) – he was a world-renown actor who could look back upon a long and successful career. Herbert Lom is survived by his sons, Alec and Nick, and his daughter Josephine.
And below, some of his projects that we here at A Wasted Life, for whatever reason, find of note – which happen to be quite a few.
The Young Mr. Pitt
(1942, dir. Carol Reed)
This stuffy bio-pic directed by Carol Reed, the director of the masterpiece The Third Man (1949 / trailer), is Herbert Lom's English-language début; he plays Napoleon – "as a glowering sociopath, anxious to engulf Europe in pursuit of his personal ambition" (to quote the Hollywood Pages). Lom would play Napoleon again 16 years later in King Vidor's War and Peace (1956 / trailer).
(1942, dir. Harold French)
In his second English-language film, Herbert Lom has a small part as a medical officer in this popular war-time propaganda film that one on-line source claims to be the inspiration for the British wartime-set sitcom 'Allo! 'Allo! (1982-92 / Helga strips). As Mystery File: "The sole purpose of the movie seems obvious: to boost the morale of the home front during the early days of World War II. Four men, including one member of the Free French (James Mason) undertake a daring mission into occupied France to obtain useful information about German positions and armaments and to free an important prisoner of war. Carla Lehmann plays Michele de Carnot [...]. She dislikes the English, causing some plot complications, but she hates the Germans more, which relieves some of the viewers' concerns considerably. She also finds herself falling in love with Major Peter Garnett (Hugh Williams), the leader of the secret mission, which provides the romance the story line needs. There is also more than a tinge of screwball comedy in this film, provided in part by the utter stupidity of the Germans in this film, but also by Michael Wilding's antics as the Cockney-accented owner of a French pub, on this mission very reluctantly for fear of returning home to his ever-demanding wife."
Full, public domain film for your viewing pleasure:
(1948, dir. Alfred Travers)
Herbert Lom stars as twins, Jules de Lisle and Georges de Lisle, two trapeze artists. Over at One Line Review, Iain Stott explains the film: "Herbert Lom is outstanding as twin acrobats, wooed from France to appear for a British circus, who are conned out of their lottery winnings by a weaselly press agent and his comely girlfriend; but ingeniously they gain their revenge, in this well acted and constructed, low-budget British noir."
Lom & Lom watch Punch & Judy:
Night and the City
(1950, dir. Jules Dassin)
Lom appears as Kristo in this classic film noir set in an unfriendly and alienating London and starring Richard Widmark and the beautiful Gene Tierney. Jules Dassin, who was known to have left-wing political sympathies, was just at the start of having his Hollywood career destroyed in the Land of the Free by the Red Scare and HUAC when he was doing this film; famously, producer Darryl F. Zanuck advised Dassin to film the most expensive scenes first so that it would be too costly for the studio to remove him from the film. (Once blacklisted, Dassin moved to primitive Europe for a long and artistically successful career.) Electric Sheep says: "Based very loosely on Gerald Kersh's excellent 1938 novel of the same name, Night and the City is the story of Harry Fabian, a small-time Soho club tout living in a derelict post-war capital populated entirely by a Dickensian array of beggars, forgers, con-men, bookies, gangsters and sharks. Fabian, played by Richard Widmark at his shifty, sweaty best, is keen to make something of himself, navigating the criminal underworld to achieve 'a life of ease and plenty' by becoming a wrestling promoter – the only hitch is that soon he'll find the city turning in on him."
(1952, dir. Guy Hamilton)
Herbert Lom gets star billing in this film based on an Edgar Wallace book. The Ringer is the directorial debut of Guy Hamilton, who went on to do the overrated Bond flick Goldfinger (1964 / trailer) as well as the fun but dumb Bond flicks Diamonds Are Forever (1971 / trailer), Live and Let Die (1973 / trailer) and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974 / trailer). The novel The Ringer later inspired a German Rialto Production Wallace film directed by Alfred Vohrer in 1964, Der Hexer, aka The Mysterious Magician, as well as a 1965 sequel, Neues vom Hexer (trailer), aka Again the Ringer. Lom's costar here, the sexy (and mostly forgotten) Swede Mai Zetterling, garnered some infamy in the mid-60s by becoming the director of some then-controversial and ground-breaking films dealing with sex and sexuality, including Loving Couples (1964) and The Girls (1968 / closing scene). In The Ringer, Lom plays a crooked lawyer who suddenly has to face off against an unknown master of disguise who is out for revenge.
As we couldn't find a trailer to The Ringer,
here's the trailer to Alfred Vohrer's Der Hexer (1964):
(1955, dir. Alexander Mackendrick)
At the time of his death, Herbert Lom was the last surviving member of the cast of the original version of the The Ladykillers (the Coen Brothers made an unnecessary if still fun American version of the film in 2004 [trailer]). As the BBC explains: "The last of the great Ealing Comedies, The Ladykillers is a wonderfully macabre black comedy that really does improve with age. Ealing stalwart Alec Guinness delivers a typically mesmerizing performance as Professor Marcus, a criminal mastermind whose brain should have been displaying an Out of Order sign for some time. His latest plan is to dupe a sweet old lady, Mrs Wilberforce (Johnson), into picking up the loot for him and his mismatched gang after they rob a security van. The gang consists of a genial bruiser (Danny Green); Jack-the-lad rogue (Peter Sellers); doddery old army type (Cecil Parker); and cold-hearted assassin (Herbert Lom). Under the guise of playing string quintets, all five meet at her house to plan the robbery. The actual heist is probably one of the easiest in cinematic history (Rififi [1955 / trailer] this ain't), but the fun and games all follow afterwards. [...]"
Chase a Crooked Shadow
(1958, dir. Michael Anderson)
A nourish thriller from the director of Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975 / trailer), Logan's Run (1976 / trailer), Dominique Is Dead (1979 / full film) and that guilty pleasure Millennium (1989 / trailer). Herbert Lom plays Police Commissar Vargas in the film, which Brit Movies calls "a ridiculously mystifying vintage thriller that succeeds in holding the viewers attention through a succession of adroit plot twists until a totally unexpected conclusion." They explain the plot as follows: "Returning to her Costa Brava villa, a recuperating neurotic heiress, Kim (Anne Baxter), fears for her sanity and her safety when a man (Richard Todd) arrives at her home claiming to be her long-lost brother. Her father had committed suicide and the year before her brother was killed in a car accident. The impostor's act is so convincing that the police chief (Herbert Lom) does not take her worries seriously. When her sinister uncle (Alexander Knox) also accepts the stranger, the heiress suspects that she and her diamonds are the target of a conspiracy."
Passport to Shame
(1958, dir. Alvin Rakoff)
Herbert Lom plays a callous pimp. Aka Room 42, this British exploiter masquerading as a drama was the "feature film" directorial debut of Alvin Rakoff, who went on to do one of everyone's favorite guilty pleasures, the hilarious and cheesy Death Ship (1980 / trailer). Brit Movie says "This cheap yet fascinating piece of period exploitation is incredibly clichéd and works best when taken as just another b-movie crime thriller rather than anything loftier." The plot? "East End loan shark Nick Biaggi (Herbert Lom) is supplied attractive down-on-their-luck girls from Europe to bring to London to work as prostitutes. One of his cohorts is 'madam' Aggie (Brenda De Banzie), who finds such a girl in Paris, poor French waif 'Malou' (Odile Versois), and persuades her to come to England to work as her companion. To avoid requiring a work permit, Biaggi tricks honest Canadian taxi-driver Johnny McVey (Eddie Constantine) into marrying Malou so she gains a British passport. After the wedding, Malou returns to Aggie's and discovers a joining door to the brothel next door, and sees working girl Vicki (Diana Dors) picking up a guy on the streets. She attempts to flee but Biaggi decrees that she will be forced into prostitution with a high-class client. Meanwhile, cab driver Johnny begins to show some concern for his faux-wife, and when Biaggi's hoods attempt to scare him off by beating him he, he calls on the cabby community to help find Malou. When Malou fails to submit to Biaggi's demands, he tires of trying to force her and decides she must be got rid of."
(1961, dir. Cy Endfield)
Cy Endfield was a US director who made his directorial debut on Poverty Row at Monogram with Gentleman Joe Palooka (1946), but his two socially critical film noirs The Sound of Fury (1950 / 13.5 minutes) and The Underworld Story (1950) espoused some sentiments that drew the attention of the HUAC, which even denounced the former of the two films as Un-American. Named as a "sympathizer," Endfield decided to resettle in the Old World, where he continued his career and, among others, directed this movie inspired by the Jules Verne book of the same name. The third known film version of the book, Endfield's version features the always enjoyable special effects and stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, while Herbert Lom is on hand as Captain Nemo. The World of Mr Satanism offers the following synopsis: "Some Civil War cats swipe a balloon, but they end up blowing clear across the U.S. and landing on – that's right – a mysterious island. They get attacked by a giant crab, giant bees, and an... emu... or something. What's really weird though is that everything they need – a compass, tools, guns, a telescope, even pussy – just keeps washing up on shore. Finally it turns out it's all the work of Captain Nemo, the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea guy! Well except for the pussy, that was just dumb luck. In the end Captain Nemo outfits everybody with scuba gear (Made out of giant seashells. Duh.), laser rifles, and high-speed internet access so they can raise a sunken pirate ship and get the fuck outta Dodge before – what else – the volcano erupts. This movie's kind of ridiculous if you stop and think about it, but between all the kick-ass monsters and the main chick's amazing legs chances are you probably won't."
The Frightened City
(1961, dir. John Lemont)
The same year that director John Lemont directed this nifty B&W thriller, he also made Konga (1961 / trailer), one of the great guilty pleasures of English cinema; Konga, naturally, is still remembered and watched today, while this English noir is pretty much totally forgotten. The blogspot Movie Magazine International is one of the few that has seen the film, and they say: "[...] Herbert Lom and John Gregson star as Waldo Zhernikov and Detective Inspector Sayers, and Sean Connery is billed third as Paddy Damion. [...] All the pretty girls wear tight, low-cut dresses and director John Lemont never misses a chance to emphasize their best assets including their navels during one dance sequence in a nightclub. He's wise to do that because all the musical numbers here are ghastly. We see Connery doing manly things from the start, like judo, and then we watch him take a shower and change into an undershirt, slacks and tight pullover shirt with no tie. There's plenty of American style thugs in this one with names like Tanky Thomas, Nero, Sanchetti, Salty Brewer, Lippy Green and Basher Prebble (you get the idea) and many, many fights, which are a relief after all that singing and dancing. [...]"
The whole public domain film:
The Phantom of the Opera
(1962, dir. Terence Fisher)
Herbert Lom finally does a Hammer House horror film – supposedly one originally written as a Cary Grant vehicle – and one directed by no one less than Terence Fisher. The film flopped anyways – perhaps the first mistake was trying to make the Phantom the sympathetic figure of the film – and is hardly one of Hammer's better films. (The best version of the story itself will probably always remain Rupert Julian's classic silent version of The Phantom of the Opera [1925 / full film.) The Dictionary of Hammer Horror, which says that "Fisher here makes a valiant attempt to breathe new life into an old tale, but the result is one of his most inconsistent films," gives the following synopsis: "In turn-of-the-century London, trouble is afoot on the opening night of Joan of Arc, the new opera by Sir Ambrose d'Arcy (Michael Gough). The production is postponed indefinitely when a murdered stagehand falls through the scenery mid-performance. The next day D'Arcy and his producer, Harry Hunter (Edward de Souza), audition the young singer Christine Charles (Heather Sears) for the opera, and rehearsals for the new production go ahead with Christine in the lead role. In her dressing room, she hears the voice of a man (Herbert Lom) telling her he will teach her to sing for him. Newfound suitor Harry is quick to discover where the voice is coming from, and soon he is on the trail of the mysterious 'Phantom of the Opera' – the true author of D'Arcy's opera."
A Shot in the Dark
(1964, dir. Blake Edwards)
The sequel The Pink Panther (1963 / trailer). This film and the next installment, the forgotten Inspector Clouseau (1968 / opening titles), the latter which saw Alan Arkin slip into the role made famous by Peter Sellers, are the only films of the unkillable Pink Panther franchise that doesn't feature "pink panther" in the opening titles. Plot: It looks as if an innocent maid (Elke Sommer of Flashback – Mörderische Ferien ) is involved in a series of killings, but the smitten Inspector Clouseau (Sellers) is convinced of her innocence – even as the body count mounts. Herbert Lom appears for the first time as Clouseau's increasingly agitated superior Commissioner Dreyfus. Although Lom, like Sellers, didn't appear in Inspector Clouseau, he went on to appear in all subsequent Pink Panther films (if only in archive footage) until the 2006 Steve Martin reboot.
Return from the Ashes
(1965, dir. J. Lee Thompson)
Herbert Lom appears as Dr. Charles Bovard in this thriller starring Maximilian Schell (of Vampires ), Samantha Eggar and Ingrid Thulin (of Salon Kitty ). AV Maniacs, which says Return from the Ashes is "one of those films people stumble on by accident and wonder how on earth it managed to fall through the cracks", gives the following plot description to this forgotten film: "Shortly after the WWII liberation of France, concentration camp survivor Mischa (Thulin) resurfaces to enter the lives of her chess-playing and loutish husband, Stanislaus (Schell), whom she married not for love but to unsuccessfully escape Nazi persecution, and her estranged stepdaughter, Fabi (Eggar), who has a couple of nasty secrets. Their domestic triangle soon leads to betrayal and murder plots that never seem to go quite as planned."
Uncle Tom's Cabin
(1965, dir. Géza von Radványi)
Among other fun projects by Hungarian director Géza von Radványi are his remake of Mädchen in Uniform (1958 / German trailer – set to the theme of Hawaii 5-0!!!) as well as three films he helped write, Walerian Borowczyk's Eurotrash Lulu (1980) – a remake of Pabst's classic silent film starring Louise Brooks, Pandora's Box (1929 / fabulous full film) – and the two trashy Euro-horrors Parapsycho – Spektrum der Angst (1975), which in classic exploitation film fashion features a real autopsy scene, and Naked Massacre (1976 / full film). His big budget version of Uncle Tom's Cabin may have been mostly sincere, but many years after its initial release it was briefly re-released in 1977 on the grindhouse circuit as Cassy. To quote Temple of Schlock, whence the poster comes, "The G-rated movie was subsequently acquired by distributor Samuel Sherman, who hired Al Adamson [the director of Dracula Vs Frankenstein (1970)] to shoot new sex and violence scenes for an R-rated Mandingo-inspired re-release in 1977 under the title Uncle Tom's Cabin and later as White Trash Woman." Herbert Lom plays the bad guy, Simon Legree. Needless to say, no matter which version of the film you see, they are all more salacious than the original book.
German trailer, song by the great Eartha Kitt:
(1966, dir. Ronald Neame)
Herbert Lom plays Shahbandar, the "richest man in the world" in this comedy heist film from the director of The Odessa File (1974 / trailer) and best version of The Poseidon Adventure (1972 / trailer). At A Glance says "One of the most entertaining of all heist films, Gambit matches Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, and a cheery sense of fun to make a highly memorable final product. Caine has the perfect plan in mind, but things don't work out as they're expected to once the ball starts rolling. Stylish and unassuming, this film quickly won me over." Shirley MacLaine – playing a Eurasian – doesn't say a word until almost a half-hour into the film.
Bang! Bang! You're Dead!
(1966, dir. Don Sharp)
To reuse aspects of what we wrote at Don Sharp's career review: "[Our Man in Marrakesh was] retitled Bang! Bang! You're Dead! for its US release. The New York Times says 'Films like Bang, Bang, You're Dead helped kill the movie career of Tony Randall in the mid-1960s' – but who ever believes The New York Times? This euro-spy persiflage possesses a must-see relevance best summed up simply with [to quote Teleport City]: 'Tony Randall versus Klaus Kinski.' Web of Mystery calls it 'One of the best of the 60s Euro-Spy cycle.' [...] Bang! Bang! You're Dead! is basically a low budget riff on North by Northwest (1959 / trailer) but set in Marrakesh, with Randall playing an innocent oil company rep (verses Cary Grant's ad executive) who gets caught up in a plot involving 2 million bucks bribe money to fix UN votes." Aside from Herbert Lom (and Randall and Kinksi), the cast also includes Wilfrid Hyde-White (of The Cat and the Canary ), Terry-Thomas, Margaret Lee, and a delectable Senta Berger (of Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace ).
Die Nibelungen, Teil 2 –
(1967, dir. Harald Reinl)
Director Reinl, who was stabbed to death at the age of 78 by his last wife on October 9, 1986, in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, also directed The Forger of London (1961), Die weiße Spinne (1963) and many more a fine film. Die Nibelungen, Teil 2 – Kriemhilds Rache is a remake of the Fritz Lang silent Kriemhild's Revenge (1924) as well as a sequel to Die Nibelungen, Teil 1 – Siegfried (1966 / trailer), which was a remake of the Fritz Lang silent Siegfried (1924 / Siegfried kills the dragon). Herbert Lom plays Etzel, the King of the Nomadic Huns, who Kriemhild (Maria Marlow) marries as part of her plan for revenge.
(1968, dirs. Robert Lynn & Jeremy Summers)
Aka The Face of Eve. Neither of the two directors here had a truly spectacular career, but director Jeremy Summers also made The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967 / trailer) and House of 1,000 Dolls (1967 / German trailer), while co-director Robert Lynn did Code 7, Victim 5 (1964 / trailer). Herbert Lom is the bad guy to Christopher Lee's dying old man, while the delectable Celeste Yarnell (of The Velvet Vampire [1971 / trailer] and Beast of Blood [1971 / trailer]) is the title character. Super Strange Video explains the plot: "While searching for Incan treasure, Mike (Robert Walker Jr.), an American pilot, crash lands in the upper Amazon region of Brazil. He is rescued from savages by a white girl called Eve (Yarnall), who is worshiped as a goddess by the natives. When news of Mike's adventure reaches a small river port, an unscrupulous American showman, John Burke (Fred Clark), sets out to find Eve and add her to his touring sideshow." Fantastic Musings and Ramblings opinions: "It's a dull affair, especially during the long middle section where the hero returns to civilization, and any interest it does generate is more due to the presence of several familiar faces (Lom, Lee, Fred Clark) than anything that actually happens. At least it doesn't take itself too seriously, though it does resort to stereotypes (in the form of Jose Maria Caffarel's comic character) to do so. One fun thing to do in the movie is to keep track of how many characters die as a result of their own monumental stupidity; I count at least three." Let's hear it for leather bikinis – and Yarnell's lovely, non-anorexic body!
Groovy music – badly staged cat fight:
Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
(1969, dir. Robert Parrish)
Herbert Lom makes a rare appearance in a science fiction film as Doctor Hassler in this movie, which was originally released under the title Doppelgänger. If many of the sets and stuff look familiar in this English film, it's because they were later reused for the cult TV series UFO (1970-71) – to which the overall production looks rather similar. And if the tale itself seems very familiar, it's because an almost identical was told in 1963 in the season 4 episode of Twilight Zone (episode 113 in all) entitled The Parallel. The plot of Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, as explained at TV Guide: "This strange little film features Roy Thinnes as a 21st-century astronaut assigned to an unusual mission. Patrick Wymark has discovered a new planet on the far side of the sun. He sends Thinnes, along with Ian Hendry, in a space ship and puts the two into a state of suspended animation. Three weeks later the ship crashes, and Hendry is seriously hurt. An unknown ship rescues them and takes them back to Wymark, but Hendry dies. Thinnes tries to tell Wymark about the mission, but Wymark doesn't seem to understand. When Thinnes sees a newspaper with reverse writing, he realizes that he is on the newly discovered planet and that it is a mirror image of Earth."
(1969, dir. Jesus Franco)
Herbert Lom takes part in his first Jess Franco film – and in nothing less than Franco's first women-in-prison flick! As Governor Santos, he shares the screen with Maria Schell, Mercedes McCambridge and Rosalba Neri (of Lady Frankenstein ); the French release includes inserted hardcore footage, none of which naturally involves the real cast. DVD Drive-in explains the film: "In cult director Jess Franco's [...] epic, three sentenced females arrive by boat to the island where they will imprisoned – 'The Castle of Death.' The main girl is a pretty blond named Marie (Maria Rohm), but since these prisoners are only called by their numbers, she becomes branded '98'. Marie makes the mistake of informing the butchy warden (Oscar-winner Mercedes McCambridge) of an ill patient in the next cell. After the expected punishment, she finds herself at the wandering hands of a feisty lesbian (Rosalba Neri), as well as the shady Governor (Herbert Lom) who apparently reaps the benefits of having sex with the prettier inmates that the warden delivers to him. Later, a sympathetic investigator (Maria Schell) arrives on the scene to witness firsthand how badly these girls have been abused and mistreated, but it may be too late…"
(1970, dir. Massimo Dallamano)
Director Dallamano, who died of a car accident in Rome on 14 November 1976, was a cinematographer (for A Fistful of Dollars , among others) who moved into the director's chair; among his more enjoyable Eurotrash projects are Devil in the Flesh (1969 / trailer), What Have You Done to Solange? (1972 / fan trailer), The Night Child (1975 / trailer) and, of course, this flick here. Herbert Lom plays Wotton, a gallerist who has the hots for Dorian (played by Helmut Berger, seen here to the left with his big hands). As Rock! Shock! Pop! says, "Set to a great fuzz guitar score buried under some heavy effects pedal work and well paced and beautifully shot, The Secret Of Dorian Gray might not appeal to those looking for a straight (pun intended) adaptation of Wilde's original story as it periodically descends head first into camp, but it's well shot and well acted and never short on weird." The plot? Really – don't you ever read books? Handsome young narcissist gives himself over to a lascivious lifestyle and his portrait ages instead of himself. Tragedy for everyone involved.
(1970, dir. Jesus Franco)
Aka Nachts, wenn Dracula erwacht. Hebert Lom as Prof. Helsing in his second (and last) Jess Franco film – alongside no lesser names than Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski (who never actually speaks throughout the whole film), and Soledad Miranda – not to mention Fred Williams and Jack Taylor. This is perhaps the only movie version of Dracula that maintains the premise of the book that Dracula is an old man who gets younger each time he feeds. Digitally Obsessed tells a plot we all already know: "Young solicitor Jonathan Harker (Fred Williams) journeys to Transylvania to deliver a deed to an English abbey to Count Dracula (Christopher Lee). But before long he begins to suspect that the count may be something more than human, and he works with Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Herbert Lom), Dr. John Seward (Paul Muller) and Quincy Morris (Jack Taylor) to rescue his fiancée Mina Murray (Maria Rohm) after her friend Lucy Westenra (Soledad Miranda) falls victim to the vampire's bite." The general consensus with this film is that it is both one of Franco's more subdued and successful films, despite the ragged edges of the low budget.
Mark of the Devil
(1970, dirs. Michael Armstrong & Adrian Hoven)
Herbert Lom, as Lord Cumberland (bad guy), shares the screen with a still-attractive Udo Kier, as Count Christian von Meruh (good guy by default) in this notorious and smashing classic of Eurotrash exploitation aka Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält. The sadly forgotten co-director Adrian Hoven (born Wilhelm Arpad Peter Hofkirchner) left the film business by dying of a heart attack on 8 May 1981; he started his long career in "serious" films but by the mid-50s he was a regular headliner of low budget "schund" films such as Liane, die weiße Sklavin / Jungle Girl and the Slaver (1957) or the hilariously bad Die Insel der Amazonen / Seven Daring Girls (1960 / scene). By the time he appeared in Franco's Succubus (1968), he was firmly established (as actor, writer, director and producer) in Eurotrash and cult films. Michael Armstrong, on the other hand, despite a promising start in Eurotrash and horror, disappeared from films after Screamtime (1985 / trailer) – though the tale he did in that compilation film was fleshed out into a feature-length film in 2010, Psychosis (trailer). Over at imdb, Humberto Amador supplies the details to Mark of the Devil: "Udo Kier is a witch hunter apprentice to Herbert Lom. He believes strongly in his mentor and the ways of the church but loses faith when he catches Lom strangling Reggie Nalder to death for calling him impotent. Kier begins to see for himself that the witch trials are nothing but a scam of the church to rob people of their land, money, and other personal belongings of value and seduce beautiful big breasted women. [...] This film contains very strong graphic torture including a women's tongue being ripped out of her head, nuns being raped (in the opening credits), and lots of beatings." Followed by Adrian Hoven's Mark of the Devil II / Hexen geschändet und zu Tode gequält (1973 / trailer), starring Erika Blanc and Anton Diffring.
Murders in the Rue Morgue
(1971, dir. Gordon Hessler)
The German-born Brit Gordon Hessler made his directorial debut with The Woman Who Wouldn't Die (1965) and made some fun movies up until The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973 / trailer), after which he pretty much disappeared into TV until the mid-80s, when he resurfaced to do a decade's worth of low-budget trash. Murders in the Rue Morgue was his second AIP Edgar Allen Poe film; he had directed The Oblong Box (trailer) in 1969 – needless to say, both "Poe" films deviate greatly from the source material. Murders in the Rue Morgue circulates in two versions, the original director's cut, which is about 11 minutes longer, and the original release, which was shortened to fit on a double bill. Plot, taken from Wikipedia: "The story revolves around a 19th century theatre troupe in Paris specializing in gory, naturalistic horror plays in the fashion of the Grand Guignol. The director, Cesar Charron (Jason Robards), is presenting Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue. Cesar's wife, the actress Madeline (Christine Kauffman), whose mother (Lilli Palmer) had been murdered by axe, is haunted by nightmares of an axe-wielding man. Then, suddenly, Rene Marot (Herbert Lom), a former lover of Madeline's mother thought long dead after being horribly disfigured on stage, mysteriously returns and begins murdering members and ex-members of the acting troupe, confounding the Paris police, who initially suspect Cesar."
(1972, dir. Roy Ward Baker)
Aka House of Crazies, this Amicus anthology film was the first of two feature film projects Lom was to make with director Roy Ward Baker, the man behind Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), among other fun stuff. In Asylum, Lom appears as Dr. Byron alongside Patrick Magee (of The Masque of the Red Death ) and Robert Powell (of Mahler ) in segment 4, Mannikins of Horror. The framing story is of Dr Martin (Powell) coming to a nut house where, as part of his interview process, he must discern who the real head doctor is by interviewing a selection patients; their tales build the anthology segments... needless to say, the interview process goes awry in the end.
And Now the Screaming Starts!
(1973, dir. Roy Ward Baker)
We saw this film many a year ago and were moved to write an absolutely scathing review, one which we have yet to publish on our blog because, well, so many people we know and whose judgement we trust insist that this film is excellent that we fear we may have been on the rag the day we saw the movie, so we would like to see it again before we commit ourselves to ripping it apart. Herbert Lom plays an ass-hole landowner named Henry Fengriffen whose actions leads to a curse upon his family that ruins the life and happiness of his innocent descendants – and also causes the incidental death of many another innocent person but, oddly enough, not the interfering-but-in-the-end ineffectual Peter Cushing. The beautiful Stephanie Beacham and her cleavage are there as Catherine Fengriffen, the lovely victim of a fertile ghost. The production itself is flawless, in any event, with lush sets and costumes and colors that merge to create a visual treat that is as enjoyable as the story is... well, here's where we'll stop talking and let TV Guide speak praise instead: "Amicus, known for its string of omnibus horrors [...], broke with that tradition for this old-fashioned Gothic chiller involving a curse on a young newly-wed, Beacham, who has just moved into the ancestral mansion of her husband, Ogilvy. It seems that a few generations ago Ogilvy's relative, Lom, raped a virgin servant girl, and now a disembodied hand takes its revenge on all the heirs to the estate. [...] Stunning art direction and excellent camerawork also give the proceedings a lift."
(1973, dir. Don Sharp)
Herbert Lom plays the character Prescott. To simply reuse what we wrote at the career review of Don Sharp: "[Don] Sharp returns to horror in this film starring Christopher Lee and Joan Collins as Dr and Sarah Mandeville and featuring Jane Birkin (of Seven Deaths in the Cat's Eye ). When the Mandervilles catch wind of a hidden stash of money hidden in a house with a nasty past, they decide to get the money for themselves. The problem is, the house is haunted... [...]." The no longer existing blogspot The Spider Must Eat You to Survive once described the film as "English Gothic at its best."
Ten Little Indians
(1974, dir. Peter Collinson)
Peter Collinson's career was already on the slide when he made this, the umpteenth film version of the famous Agatha Christie novel And Then There Were None (originally entitled Ten Little Niggers), the best-selling book of all books she ever wrote (in fact, it is the 7th best-selling book of all time). This version here, the first one to made in color, is also the second of three versions that producer Harry Alan Towers brought to the screen (the first being from 1965 [trailer]; the third, 1989 [trailer]). This version has a highly enjoyable international cast, to say the least, and unlike the original story, which is set on an island, the events here take place in a hotel deep in the Iranian desert. Herbert Rom appears here as Dr Edward Armstrong, who had been accused of causing a woman's death by operating on her while drunk. (Lom is also present in Towers' 1989 production, directed by Alan Birkinshaw, but as the General, who had caused the death of his wife's lover by sending the soldier on a suicide mission.) The plot, according to Wikipedia: "A group of 10 people, strangers to one another, have all travelled to a hotel located deep in the deserts of Iran. Upon arrival they discover that their host is mysteriously absent. They are accused by a tape recording of having committed various crimes in the past which went unpunished by the law. As guests start to die, the remainder deduce that their unseen host is determined to murder them. Since a search of the hotel proves that there is no one hiding among them, they realize that the murderer is one of them."
The Dead Zone
(1983, dir. David Cronenberg)
Not remade by Robert Lieberman in 2002 as The Dead Zone (trailer) – that direct-to-video release is actually only the first two episodes of the TV series edited together to make one "film." The 1983 version of the Stephan King novel of the same name was given to Cronenberg to direct when the originally intended director John Badham bowed out; the film signaled David Cronenberg's crossover to becoming a Hollywood director – if a rare one who, with the exception of this film, has retained a vision of his own. The movie was well received and everyone we know who has seen it seems to like it, but we fell asleep both times we tried to catch it on late-night TV. Over at Eat Horror, however, they obviously had no problem staying awake: "Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) is a school teacher who has a car crash and wakes from a five year coma to find he can see the future. He struggles to rebuild a life for himself but his gift weighs heavy on his conscience and when he has a vision about slimy politician Greg Stillson (Martin Sheen) he is faced with an agonizing decision. This is a fantastic film featuring excellent performances from a talented cast and effective direction [...]. It is a thoughtful and powerful film which rejects scares and gore in favor of a moody, atmospheric and deeply chilling character driven story." Herbert Lom is on hand as Johnny's doctor, Dr. Sam Weizak.
(1988, dir. John 'Bud' Cardos)
While it is possibly understandable for Robert Vaughn and Leon Isaac Kennedy to be in a John 'Bud' Cardos film, one must assume that Lom – like his costars Ernest Borgnine and Oliver Reed – must have been facing some pressing bills for him to have decided to join this production: John 'Bud' Cardos's directorial projects are usually only a tad better than his acting credits (the latter which include Nightmare in Wax  and Satan's Sadists [1969 / trailer]). Here at A Wasted Life, we find that any film that has Cardos's name somewhere on the credits is always good for a gander! Comeuppance Reviews says "While the many stars on show will draw viewers in, and there is plenty of beautiful scenery and such, the movie is kind of flat and feels like filler at times. It also has some wacky musical stings that seem inappropriate. Really, this is just a star-studded Exploding Hut movie, and it's also a bit overlong (probably to try to accommodate all the characters)." Basic plot: Good guy (Borgnine) puts together a team of mercenaries to rescue his son from the bad guys (Reed, Lom and Vaughn, among others) in Angola. Released by Troma – which sort tells you what to expect.
(1988, dir. Tom Bussmann)
As far as we can tell, this is the only known movie directed by Tom Bussmann; the film was inspired by a British television series of the same name (1982), but follows a different plotline and features a mostly new cast. Herbert Lom plays General Mosquera, the dictator of the fictional country of Maguadora, who sets off an international incident by invading a neighboring British colony. All Movie explains: "Tipping the scales on the Monty Python-esque side of broad comedy, this outrageous and classically British farce is a series of episodes involving the U.S., a small Caribbean nation, the British government, and the military. The American president is a former clown who dies after asking someone to punch him in the stomach to prove how strong he is. The Vice-President (Loretta Swit) takes over and heads for trouble right away. A British island has been invaded by a Caribbean dictatorship and the gay British admiral sent to command naval operations takes a warm-hearted, 1940s-style leave of his 'spouse.' A Princess working as a nurse overdoes it when asked to shave a sailor for an operation. The British Prime Minister decides that if the unemployment situation could be easily solves if the employed would only jump off a cliff. And so it goes on and on, with some of the skits delving into more violent and sacrilegious themes."
Masque of the Red Death
(1989, dir. Alan Birkinshaw)
1989 must have seen Herbert Lom do a two-for-one offer, for he promptly appeared in two films – this and the remake of Ten Little Indians (trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsMfCkcni88) – directed by Alan Birkinshaw, whose true career highlight is his debut feature film, the vintage piece of exploitation Killer's Moon (1978 / trailer). (Others from the cast of the 1989 version of Ten Little Indians who also had a two-for-one offer were Frank Stallone and Brenda Vaccaro.) The film has relatively little to do with supposed source, or the earlier, better version of the film from 1964. The plot, to quote imdb: "Lovely photographer Rebecca (Michelle McBride) winds up in a Bavarian castle at a 'Masque of the Red Death' party hosted by the wealthy Ludwig (Herbert Lom). Mayhem ensues as assorted Poe story devices start doing away with the guests." In a case of truly original casting, Frank Stallone plays a Duke. No nudity, but death by decapitation, stabbings, strangling and a sewing machine. Cinema Gonzo says "So, apparently, the castle is not sealed off from a plague because there is no plague, only a menace in a red cloak wandering the halls, picking off the party goers [...]. The entire point of the story, that of the rich falsely believing they can escape the horrors of the world, seems to have been lost in translation, and we are left with a stalking phantom wandering around an illustrious castle and offing them in stylish, somewhat Argento-esque fashion. Just as I probably shouldn't worry about the horrors of the outside world, or the tiny horrors inevitably creeping inside and around me, maybe I shouldn't worry about whether or not the art I intake contains allusions to these horrors and plagues. I should just be happy that I'm an invited guest at such a ball, surrounded by garish costumes and fancy murders and hot chicks and a kick-ass band."
The "kick-ass band" from the film:
(1991, dir. Michele Soavi)
Aka The Devil's Daughter, The Sect and Demons 4. Prior to Cemetery Man (1994 / trailer), and following StageFright: Aquarius (1987) and The Church (1989 / trailer), Michele Soavi made this horror film starring Herbert Lom as Moebius Kelly. All Movie supplies the following plotline: "This stylishly photographed horror movie centers upon a beautiful, good-hearted schoolteacher (Kelly Curtis) whose life becomes a living hell after she is chosen to bear the son of Satan. Her horrible ordeal begins when an ancient enigmatic traveler (Herbert Lom) places an ancient, supposedly extinct, insect up her nose. It crawls into her brain. She soon begins having terrifying dreams and more. When she learns the awful truth about her relationship with the Dark Master things get even worse. Still the baby is born and the poor woman faces a terrible and, genre-wise, surprising choice." An ending that the Worldwide Celluloid Massacre does not seem to like: "Soavi [...] rips off Rosemary's Baby and creates a creepy world where a world-wide Satanic sect is building momentum, sacrificing children and waiting for the birth of ... something or another. Along the way, evil bugs are inserted in people's nostrils where they lay their young to feed on the brain, one woman's face is literally ripped off in a ritual and used for resurrection, a stork mounts a lady and eats worms out of her neck, rabbits turn out to be quite adept at switching TV channels with a remote and other inexplicable events occur. Cult material, if not for the stupid ending."