In the center of the Earth, underneath a volcano, Mark (Carlos East) and Corinne Mantell are searching for the source of a radio transmission. Guided by Corinne’s father, Doctor Carl Mantell (Boris Karloff), they manage to locate the source. It seems to be what can only be described as a living rock containing some kind of primordial plasma. The rock is brought to their lab for research. The team connects it to a bank of computers to try to communicate with it. Mantell believes the life force contained in the rock holds ancient secrets to the universe. He is obsessed with trying to figure out what the computer data means.
The rock needs to be fed. It requires the proteins found in the blood of young women experiencing fear. To get the blood they need they have erected what they call a fear chamber. Young women who come to a woman’s organization thinking they are applying at a job placement agency are scared and put through an elaborate charade of being in a torture chamber. When the women faint from fear some blood is extracted and fed to the rock. The women are then given drugs to make them forget their experience. Assisting Mantell are his assistant and Nurse, Helga (Isela Vega) and a hulking simpleton named Roland (Yerye Beirute). In the fear chamber they are assisted by a midget named Enano (Santanon) and a turban wearing Syed (Alfredo Rosas).
After working with the life form for months Mark believes they are no closer to knowing anything than they were before. He even believes that the rock is controlling the computers and giving them bad information. He wants to end the project. When a burglar is killed by the rock Mantell is convinced that the rock is evil. As Mantell is cutting off communication with the rock he collapses from the stress. While Mantell is confined to bed Mark and Corinne go away to relax for a few weeks. Helga continues to try and keep the creature alive. Roland believes he can mentally communicate with the rock. They begin feeding the rock live humans.
Eventually Helga figures out that the rock is not trying to teach us anything but trying to learn from humans. The rock is using the computers to learn how to survive without human aid. Then the rock intends on communicating to other creatures like itself so that they can move on their own above ground and use humans as a food source.
“Fear Chamber” AKA “Chamber of Fear” AKA “The Torture Chamber” AKA “Torture Zone” was released in 1968 and was directed by Juan Ibanez and Jack Hill. It is a Mexican horror movie and the second of four Mexican films that Boris Karloff did before his death. The other films were “House of Evil”, released in 1968, “Isle of the Snake People” and “The Incredible Invasion”, both released in 1971. The movie was filmed in Mexico City and in Santa Monica, California.
By the time Karloff made this and the other three Mexican films he was suffering from emphysema. Only half of one lung was still functioning and he required oxygen between takes. Still he managed to put on a performance that belied his condition. Also considering he was acting in some of the worst dreck ever his acting skills were still top notch.
This was one really weird movie. At one point you’re under a volcano, the next you’re in a house of torture and then you’re in a laboratory where everyone thinks talking to a pulsating rock is perfectly normal. This is Mexican horror. As far as plots go it’s like someone threw darts at an idea board and used whatever the darts hit on. The movie is for Boris Karloff fans and lovers of so bad it’s good movies.