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The Oblong Box (1969)
Topic Started: Oct 11 2017, 05:43 PM (87 Views)
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The Oblong Box (1969) Dir. Gordon Hessler
An American-International Picture (UK)
91 min. / Color / 1.85:1
On BD from Kino Lorber

Vincent Price and his brother return to Victorian England from their plantation in Africa, but something's gone horribly awry: his brother is victim of a horrible native curse that has disfigured him and driven him criminally insane, so Vinnie chains him up, good and tight, in the family attic. The brother fakes his own death with a little native magic of his own and is buried alive, but local doctor Christopher Lee has a spunky team of gravediggers rootin' up corpses for him, so the brother is rescued and blackmails Lee into helping him exact a hideous revenge. You know how that goes.

Man, is this a handsome movie to look at. Gorgeous old English homes and countryside, lavish costumes, really, really nice. I loved lookin' at it. Mr. Price wears a gorgeous blue suit and his brother (played by Alister Williamson) is snappily attired in a red velvet mask that really looks good next to all the bloody throats he's cutting. There are some naked boobies on display, unexpected (by me, anyway) in a 1960s AIP horror film.

That said...

The film really misses the mark in all other categories. This aimed to be a followup to the (very good) Witchfinder General/Conqueror Worm but director Michael Reeves died during pre-production and Hessler stepped in, rewrote the film (originally, Vincent was supposed to play both brothers) and maybe that's the problem. All I can tell you is that the murders (there are a lot of them) are filmed without either thrills or chills, a quick (fake) blade across the throat and a lot of blood, and that's it. Price is good but Lee is given too little to do. The film is so handsomely mounted that I really wanted to love it but finishing its too-lengthy running time was ultimately a chore. These late '60s, early '70s AIP films, none of which I can tell apart by the title (The Oblong Box, Scream and Scream Again, And Now the Screaming Starts, and on and on) invariably disappoint me. This is heavily billed as a Poe adaptation, but of course it only uses the title of the Poe story.

Million-dollar Dialog:
"Empty graves eventually tell their story."

And how.

A lovely Blu-ray from Kino, with a wealth of other AIP trailers of the era, a ten minute recitation of Poe by Price, and commentary I didn't listen to.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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