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Corridors of Blood (1958)
Topic Started: Nov 19 2017, 08:11 AM (117 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Corridors of Blood (1958) Dir. Robert Day
Amalgamated Productions, Distributed by MGM
86 min. / B&W / 1.66:1
On DVD from Criterion (full frame)

ITB Shock Theatre #217

1840, and Kindly old doctor Boris Karloff toils away in the notorious Seven Dials slum of London, where he sees pain and suffering and dirty clothing up close. His life's work is to discover a way to alleviate pain during operations (they amputate a limb every few minutes throughout the entire picture; not the SAME limb, mind, a brand new one) but his various experiments to create anesthesia leave him a befuddled old drug addict (I know what you're thinking, but Bela Lugosi was dead by the time this was filmed and thus technically unavailable) who wanders into the local pub, den of whores, pickpockets, thieves, murderers, and probably a member of Parliament or two. Black Ben, the proprietor, and his assistant Resurrection Joe (Christopher Lee in a fine role, I must say) take advantage of the good doctor and this all goes on for quite a while until somebody says, "Hey! This is supposed to be a HORROR picture!" and we get some stabbings, a rooftop chase, acid thrown in a guy's face, that sort of thing.

Apparently the success of The Haunted Strangler enabled the producer to make a second Karloff film in England; a plan to film Dracula fell through and so an old script called The Doctor from Seven Dials was dusted off although a bit too much of the dust was left on it to suit me: I've sadly always found this to be one of Karloff's duller pictures. It's a script problem: the film is lavishly produced and the direction is interesting and the characters are fine, notably Christopher Lee wonderfully dressed all in black with an ancient top hat; Francis Matthews as Boris' son; Francis de Wolff as Black Ben; Nigel Green as the puffed-up Scotland Yard bloke; and lovely Betta St. John and Adrienne Corri to look at. But there isn't enough going on to sustain the film's running time, and especially after the also-slow-moving-but-at-least-it-had-a-monster-and-can-can-girls Strangler picture, we keep waiting for this film to pick up, which it finally does at the climax but by then we're probably bored.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Son to Pop: "Father, you dream of lulling people into unconsciousness. There's nothing new about THAT."

Karloff had just turned 70 and was still in fine form, lending dignity to the role and some good work in the befuddled drug scenes (and he gets to smash up the lab while he's laughing hysterically from the anesthesia!) but the film doesn't really take off until the end (unless you like seeing amputations, which I do not). The cuts (so to speak) the censor insisted upon are included as extras on the disc: oh, boy, more amputations! One wishes they would've just thrown out the attempts to make an "A" movie out of this thing and filmed something like Frankenstein 1970 only good.
"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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