So I’m going to do a regular feature on bad-but-good horror. Films that are awful, but manage to entertain nonetheless. Because honestly, I love me some cheesy horror. First up is a little gem from 1953 that I discovered the other day. And for what it’s worth, this post will contain spoilers.
The plot goes thusly: Kitty’s fiancée inherits a castle in Scotland, goes off to sign the papers, and never comes back. Eventually she hears from him, and he tells her that he has to break off their engagement and never see her again. She of course decides to go off to the castle and find out what’s going on, bringing her long-suffering Aunt Edith along for the ride. She finds her fiancée horribly altered, a ghost of a man, and he seems to want nothing but to get rid of her. She insists on staying, only to find that the bedroom doors are always locked at night, something strange seems to be moving around the castle, and it all seems to be connected to the maze in the garden which no one is allowed to enter.
Okay, first of all, the best character by far is Aunt Edith. She spends most of the film trying to talk Kitty out of the increasingly obnoxious plans she comes up with to ‘help’ her man. “Do you really think it’s a good idea to pay him an unexpected visit in his old castle that has no electricity or running water? Just find someone else to marry!” “Do you really think we should insist on staying here even though he’s just told us to get out?” Do you really think it’s a good idea to invite all your friends to visit?” Poor Aunt Edith, why the hell did you put up with it all?
In case you haven’t realised by now, Kitty is perhaps the most infuriating heroine ever. And I use the term heroine loosely, because she spends pretty much the whole film being annoying. And yeah, okay, she gets her man back in the end, but was it really worth it? Oh well, he was a bit of a moron as well, so maybe they deserved each other.
Anyway, the film is full of your classic haunted house staples.
Ridiculous rubber bats, and even more ridiculous, um… ~ mysterious footprints:
But I’ve left the best part until last. Want to know the big secret that the castle has been guarding? Do you? Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s fucking brilliant. It turns out that the castle is home to… a giant man frog!!!
Kitty is a moron, so her reaction to this is
And the man-frog (who for some reason sounds like an elephant), runs back up to his bedroom and promptly jumps out of the window.
The fiancée makes an instant recovery of his former good spirits, and tells everyone that the frog was actually his ancestor who had been living secretly in the castle, cared for by his ancestors for the past two hundred years. And it’s okay folks, there’s a perfectly good scientific explanation for all this! See, when people are in the embryonic state, they go through a phase where they’re an amphibian. And frog-man never progressed beyond that phase. So… he grew into a giant frog. Who lived for two hundred years.
So the poor frog guy was so ashamed, he hid himself away, his only pleasure being his nightly swims in the pool at the centre of the maze. Which is where Kitty found him. Her horror at his appearance drove him to suicide. Bet you feel like a real tool now, don’t you, Kitty.
Anyway, The Maze is a lot of fun. it has many of the classic monster movie tropes, with lots of added ridiculousness. I quite enjoyed it, and I’d say give it a go to anyone who feels like a slice of classic b-movie they don’t have to take too seriously. Also, the maze itself is pretty cool.