Review: The Dungeon of Harrow (1962)

The Dungeon of Harrow
aka Dungeons of Horror

Directed by Pat Boyette
Starring Russ Harvey, Helen Hogan, William McNulty

I’ll be honest with you. Most of my time spent watching The Dungeon of Harrow is now lost to me. As I try and recall details, my mind can only sift through countless blurry images, each more confusing than the last. My notebook is full of unfamiliar symbols and foreign languages. Common phrases are written over and over again, different misspellings each time. Is this even my handwriting?

I can’t say for sure. All I know is the dungeon.

The plot: A man named Aaron Fallon finds himself stranded in a castle on an island. The owner of the castle, Count de Sade, is insane. A beautiful woman named Cassandra lives in the castle with him. Aaron and Cassandra decide to escape the Count’s evil, torturous clutches together.

I remember a toy boat bobbing up and down in a darkened swimming pool. A giant plush bat. Poisoned wine. I don’t remember faces. My eyes crossed and uncrossed. Seconds passed like hours. There was a swordfight. And a fistfight. A green-colored strip appeared at the top of the frame and remained there for most of the film. It was beautiful. It disappeared and reappeared during slow moments, and my eyes were drawn to it like a beacon from beyond. It was my constant. It soothed me as I waited to see the dungeon.

Hours after sitting through The Dungeon of Harrow, I realized something. The movie had achieved perfect mediocrity. So complete was its modesty that it never once tried anything new or demanded that an original thought be explored. So slight were its intentions that large chunks of it have slipped completely from my mind.

Or were its intentions slight? This was an independent production. The principal players were rarely seen in anything since. Director Pat Boyette went on to become a very successful comic book artist. The Dungeon of Harrow was made for no money with a cast of unknowns. It was a passion project. And to what end? Simple: Creating the most perfectly mediocre B-movie ever seen.

You can’t be angry at a movie made with such lofty intentions. Just let it slide over you. Get lost in it. You’ll forget you were ever there, and if you come across it again someday, you’ll watch it again, unaware that you had seen it before. It’s a time machine. It’s magic.

I’m still looking back and trying to remember the movie as a whole. My brain hurts. My body is fatigued. My notes are a jumbled mess. I pause and let my memories overwhelm me.

“Fear not,” says the dungeon. “This is what’s happening. This is how things are.”

And I sleep.


Amazon – The Dungeon of Harrow DVD
YouTube – Complete Movie


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