Women Of Horror Retrospective: Jill Haworth Simon Fitzjohn June 13, 2020 Editor's Choice, Women Of Horror 262 When English actress Jill Haworth sadly passed away in 2011 at the age of 65, pretty much every printed obituary led on the fact she was ‘best known’ for her role as Sally Bowles in the original Broadway stage production of Cabaret – or that she found ‘fame’ in a series of Otto Preminger epics, such as 1960’s Exodus. Eventually, way down the column inches (after mentioning her original dream was to be a ballet dancer, that her family ran a successful textile business and that she hopped around the globe making films) we get to the fact that she turned up in a number of memorable roles in horror films – although The Guardian were quick to dub them ‘risible’, or The Telegraph simply ‘forgettable’. Admittedly Haworth herself in an interview remarked she “never wanted to do horror movies”, but was happy to go where the money took her. But here at Movie Ramblings we just love those horror movies, so this is how we’d like to remember Jill… IT! (1967) Before we get to discussing ‘IT!’ we should note that, if imdb is to be believed, Jill actually made her horror debut in 1960 Hammer classic Brides of Dracula, in an uncredited role as a schoolgirl. Also worth remembering is 1963 episode of ‘The Outer Limits’ The Sixth Finger, where Jill headlined opposite David McCallum in a tale of human evolution and scientific experiments gone awry. But it was ‘IT!’ where Haworth properly immersed herself in the world of horror – a bizarre mix of Hammer horror, Psycho and creature feature. Roddy McDowall plays Arthur Pimm, a Norman Bates-like character who works as a museum curator and who just happens to bring an ancient Golem to life to do his bidding. Jill plays Ellen Grove (who Pimm lusts after but without reciprocation), caught in the middle of this madness. We get plenty of dodgy effects, Arthur’s mother turning up as a corpse and even a nuclear explosion in a film that Haworth herself dubbed ‘a piece of shit’. It’s far from a classic, but there is plenty of fun to be had if watched in the right frame of mind. HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR (1969) One of those late 60s British offerings that tried to match the groovy with the gore, Haunted House Of Horror (also known as Horror House) comes with the baggage of being a film that had all sorts of production problems, from reshoots to multiple edits, as well as interfering producers. In name the writer/director was Michael Armstrong, who supposedly came up with the story when a mere 15 (he would go on to find enduring fame with horror fans due to his 1970 shocker Mark Of The Devil). As the title would suggest, a gaggle of twenty-something party lovers decide to head to a ‘haunted mansion’ for a night of revelry (including a séance), only for things to get out of hand when one of the group turns up brutally stabbed to death. Realising one of them must be the murderer, the group scarpers, only to return to the mansion over the coming weeks to try and unlock the mystery – only for the bodies to keep piling up. Haworth stars as Sheila, dubbed a ‘bored partygirl’ and girlfriend to Frankie Avalon’s Chris. Does Sheila survive? That would be telling… TOWER OF EVIL (1972) Arguably the high-water mark of Jill’s horror output, Tower Of Evil (or The Horror Of Snape Island as it was also known) is a rather nifty chiller, in many ways foreshadowing the genre films that would become popular in the late 70s/early 80s. We get a unknown killer, some graphic kills, nudity and a neat ambience of isolation as a group head to Snape Island (and its lighthouse) to investigate both a supposed treasure trove to an ancient god, and try to unravel the mystery of a series of brutal murders that open the film. Haworth plays Rose, an expert on Venetian artefacts, who also proves to be pretty resourceful when the bodies start piling up. Also among the cast are the likes of well-known British faces Robin Askwith, Derek Fowlds and Jack Watson. Dismissed by most critics at the time, Tower Of Evil is something of a minor gem. HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (TV 1972) A US television movie put together by none other than Aaron Spelling, this effort also came with the added kudos of being penned by Psycho scribe Joseph Stefano. Jill plays Joanna Morgan, one of four daughters who return to the family home to visit their seriously-ill father. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the father is convinced that he is actually being poisoned by his second wife (their stepmother). The girls are naturally suspicious and decide to investigate, spurred on by the fact that the stepmother Elizabeth supposedly got away with murdering her first husband. Things then take a turn into ‘bodycount’ territory when a yellow mac wearing killer shows up and starts offing that cast – including Joanna, who is gutted via a pitchfork pretty early in proceedings. Could Elizabeth (who conveniently has a yellow mac) be the killer? That would be telling, but there are plenty of twists and turns in an enjoyable romp that also includes ‘Play Misty For Me’ star Jessica Walter, Julie Harris (of ‘The Haunting’ fame) and a fresh-faced Sally Field. THE MUTATIONS (1974) A sci-fi/horror schlockfest bizarrely directed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff, The Mutations is a film that actually turns out better than its synopsis would suggest. It certainly has a solid cast, with Donald Pleasance headlining as Professor Nolter, a ‘mad scientist’ keen on producing a human/plant hybrid. When these original experiments go awry, the failures are offloaded to villainous freakshow owner Lynch (played by none other than Tom Baker). We are definitely heading into Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ territory here, and with some outlandish gore, nudity, scientific mumbo-jumbo and a strange musical score The Mutations is exploitation through and through. Haworth turns up as Lauren, one of Nolter’s eager students (alongside Norwegian favourite Julie Ege), eventually finding herself face-to-face with one of the professor’s sordid experiments.