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The Oblong Box
Im Todesgriff der Roten Maske / Dance, Mephisto

USA, UK 1969
produced by
Gordon Hessler, Louis M. Heyward for AIP
directed by Gordon Hessler
starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Alister Williams, Peter Arne, Maxwell Shaw, Rupert Davies, Uta Levka, Sally Geeson, Harry Baird, Hilary Dwyer (= Hilary Heath), Carl Rigg, Godfrey James, James Mellor, John Barrie, Ivor Dean, Danny Daniels, Hira Talfrey, John Wentworth, Betty Woolfe, Martin Terry, Anne Clune, Jackie Noble, Ann Barrass, Jan Rossini
screenplay by Lawrence Huntington, additional dialogue by Christopher Wicking, based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe

AIP's Poe-cycle

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When in Africa, Edward's (Alister Williamson) face was horribly disfigured in some native revenge-ritual, but before the natives could do even worse to him, he was saved by his brother Julian (Vincent Price) & brought back to England. However, the experience has turned him into a raging madman, so julien has to lock him away in a room ...

But even in his demented state, Edward is apparently not without friends, & he persuades 2 of them, Trench (Peter Arne) & Norton (Carl Rigg), to get him out ... & soon enough they find a witchdoctor (Harry Baird) who can put him into a state of suspended animation, so as to leave the house as a corpse & later be revived by his friends. Good idea, it seems, however Julian immediately nails the ugly corpse of his brother shut in a coffin, & orders Trench & Norton to get him another body, to present to the public as his dead brother. So the 2 of them, with their witchdoctor (for some reason), do a litle killing to get their hands on a fresh cadaver, & then rather inexplicably forget all about Edward - more correctly, they suddenly don't care anymore ("it can't be helped, oh well").

However, the local physician Neuhart (Christopher Lee) is always in need of fresh corpses, & soon has Edward dug up by his regular graverobbers. Only when he looks onto his new corpse, he finds out the corpse is not dead at all, & terribly ugly, too. But the corpse, Edward, immediately hides his face behind a red mask, &, as he knows about the doctor's graverobbing practices, he blackmails him into giving him food & lodging, while he wants to set out on his revenge spree. Soon enough he has killed Norton too, then though he falls in love with Neuhart's maid Sally (Sally Geeson) & forgets all about his revenge. When neuhart though learns about their relationship, he fires Sally (but it eludes me why). who in a totally unnecessary plottwist soon finds employment with Julien & his newly married wife Elizabeth (Hilary Dwyer).

Heartbroken, Edward seeks solace with a prostitute (Uta Levka), but when she & her pimp want to trick him out of all his money, he murders her ... then he murders Trench, after he has given him the adress of the witchdoctor ... but the witchdoctor fails to cure him, however he tells him that the natives were not actually meaning to have their revenge on him but his brother Julian, who has killed a child while in Africa - it's just the same last names that had Edward suffer in his brother's stead.

Then of course Edward murders doctor Neuhart, before going after his brother ... but ultimately Julian can shoot Edward, but when he leans over his brother's dieing body, Edward bites him ...

& soon enough, Julian's face turns as disfigured as Edward's was ...

 

There are actually very few films that are as lost for a proper diretion as this one is: It starts out as a jungle-horror-voodoo-adventure, then turns into some kind of monster movie, then a bit of graverobbing is thrown into the mix, including the usual ruthless doctor (Christopher Lee here) who doesn't care too much about where his bodies come from, then it turns into a revenge plot, suddenly though it's a sympathetic look about a disfigured man who tries to come to terms with reality, before suddenly it's about a mad serial killer. Now don't get me wrong, I was always one for mixing the genres, & i have seen even wilder mixes that do work, this one however doesn't. Amidst all his tasty ingredients, someone seems to have forgotten to add a coherent plot, & without that, the movie simply falls apart & becomes, especially considering the competent cast, a major disappointment.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
Amazon!!!

 

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD