Retrospective: Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible

It’s now January, but December, the month of tomato soup, big knitted jumpers and millions of Britons crying out ‘ONLY X NUMBER OF DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!’ is still fresh in the mind. We’ve decided to look back at some of our favourite creepy television shows, to help cleanse our TV palates. We’re kicking off with the Steve Coogan penned Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible.

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The name of the show itself is a pun of the 1965 film anthology Dr Terror’s House of Horror’s and this TV show takes a similar premise. Each episode is a different self-contained story poking fun at various horror genres and the silly tropes within it.

As well as writing it, Coogan also takes on a different role each episode and he really does showcase what an incredible comic actor he is. He goes from creepy and grotesque to handsome, dashing, and a bit stupid, with ease. You really do forget it’s him behind some of the characters.

Coogan also plays the role of Dr Terrible, the series creepy announcer, he is truly grotesque to look at, like a wrinkly old egg with black eyes, even his voice is disgusting, all croaky and dripping with sleaze.
There’s a supporting cast made up of some of Britain’s greatest comedy and acting talent; Sarah Alexander, Simon Pegg, Warwick Davis, Julia Davis, Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller (to name a few).

You can see Hammer Horror has been a huge influence on this series, from the brilliant lesbian vampire episode Lesbian Vampire Lovers of Lust with Ronni Ancona playing the seductive vampire Countess Kronstein. It channels some classic Hammer campy vampire schtick perfectly. It’s all heaving bosoms, red velvet and creepy castles. Honor Blackman also makes an appearance in this episode.

This isn’t to say the show is without it’s faults; There is some cringeworthy casting thanks to Mark Gattis in yellowface playing the Asian villain in the episode Frenzy of Tongs. That’s a big misfire in an otherwise good story around Asian stereotyping and a spoof of the Fu Manchu character.

It’s an issue that’s prevalent at the moment, the whitewashing of Asian characters and you could easily write this off as being ‘back in 2001’ and ‘we know better now’, but with Ghost in the Shell, Dr Strange and Iron Fist bringing up issues around whitewashing of Asian characters, this just doesn’t sit well with the rest of the series. It’s otherwise a great episode! You get hints of Sexton Blake and even a bit of Sherlock. Coogan plays a dashing and arrogant detective in this one.

Some episodes are stronger than others, Voodoo Feet of Death is an episode that drags a little and has a fairly weak central joke around a ballroom dancer, who has a double foot transplant that takes a turn when the feet turn murderous. The joke does wear thin by the end of the episode, but the supporting characters play it with such gusto that it’s still a very entertaining watch.

It’s available on DVD for about £4 on Amazon. It’s worth it if you’re a fan of cheesy horror and silly laughs! It is a brilliant and loving horror pastiche, we thoroughly recommend this for a giggle and some silly scares.

GS Blogger: Sarawezzie

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