L’orribile Segreto Del Dr. Hichcock

Robert Hampton [Riccardo Freda]

Scen.: Julian Berry [Ernesto Gastaldi]. F.: Donald Green [Raffaele Masciocchi]. M.: Donna Christie [Ornella Micheli]. Scgf.: Joseph Goodman. Mus.: Roman Vlad. Int.: Barbara Steele (Cynthia Hichcock), Robert Fleming (dr. Bernard Hichcock), Montgomery Glenn [Silvano Tranquilli] (dottor Kurt Lang), Teresa Fitzgerald [Maria Teresa Vianello] (Margaretha). Prod.: Louis Mann [Luigi Carpentieri, Ermanno Donati] per Panda Film Da: Cineteca D.W. Griffith. 35mm. D.: 88′. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes


While making a perfect copy of the Anglo-Saxon style gothic film, for the first time Freda signed with a foreign pseudonym (Robert Hampton), as did all of his collaborators. This idea was repeated in other horror films and spaghetti westerns, from Sergio Leone onwards. The film was shot in twelve days in a villa in the Parioli neighborhood of Rome. The doctor’s name obviously echoes the name of Alfred Hitchcock but with a small difference in spelling; in the later work Lo spettro (1963), almost a counterpart to this film, there is also a character with this name but he is not exactly the same.

The strength of L’orribile segreto del dottor Hichcock and Lo spettro, two controlled and skillful films, lies in their claustrophobic and constricting sets, in the sumptuous, dark mixture of colors but especially, in the first, in the analytical precision of the description of a real perversion, necrophilia, and, in the second, in the reality “behind closed doors”, a murderous game played by four characters, where mystery proves to be a macabre but earthly joke. For Freda, monsters are among us, are us, dominated as we are by ambition and fear.

Goffredo Fofi, preface to Riccardo Freda, Divoratori di celluloide, Il Formichiere, Milan 1981

Real horror is the one rooted in us at birth. It is an atavistic fear that probably goes back to the dawn of the caveman. […] The first true fear then is the fear of the dark … of obscurity! […]. This is what true terror is, the anxiety of what cannot be seen, the noise that triggers terror previously repressed. In all my films there are doors that open silently into the dark, creaking or rustling, a branch tapping against a window that seems to be the skeletal hand of a ghost.

Riccardo Freda, Divoratori di celluloide, Il Formichiere, Milano 1981