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Strangler of the Swamp

USA 1946
produced by
Leon Fromkess (executive) for PRC
directed by Frank Wisbar
starring Rosemary La Planche, Blake Edwards, Robert Barrat, Charles Middleton, Effie Parnell, Nolan Leary, Frank Conlan, Virginia Farmer
screenplay by Harold Erickson, Frank Wisbar, based on a story by Frank Wisbar, Leo J.McCarthy, music by Alexander Steinert

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Ferryman Joseph (Frank Conlan) of a village amidst the swamps is killed one day, & the townsfolks - a superstitious lot - are quick to blame it on the strangler, a former ferryman himself who was a long time ago accused of murder & hanged - a murder, as it turns out not he but Joseph did commit -, & whose spirit now roams the swamplands.

Everyone now seems way to afraid to take up the job of ferryman - everyone but Joseph's granddaughter Maria that is, who returns to the village from afar & doesn't share the villagers' superstitions (but she is not told everything by the villagers either). Soon the mayor's (Robert Barrat) son (Blake Edwards) also returns to the village from studies far away from home, & he proves to have a more sober approach to the strangler-business as well, so it is no wonder that he & Maria soon fall in love. But the strangler of course is real (& played by Charles Middleton), still out to get those who hanged him & there offspring, as Chris soon has to find out, almost being hanged by the spirit & saved by Maria only in the nick of time. But Chris is still seriously injured, & the strangler spoils every attempt of Maria to get help - but while doing so losing track of Chris himself, whom meanwhile his father is trying to save.

In the end though, Maria, Chris & his father are cornered in the ruins of the old chapel which the strangler cannot enter but they cannot leave, either - & Chris is still on the verge of dying. So Maria decides to make the ultimate sacrifice - to give her own life in order to save Chris's. The strangler, touched by this, gives up his revenge & seizes to exist - leaving Maria alive after all.

 

Strangler of the Swamp is easily the best movie PRC ever turned out as well as quite probably one of the best horror movies of the 40's (& certainly the most underrated one, I imagine it would be raved about if the 3 letters of the production company weren't PRC but RKO). Strangler ... is a deliberately slow-paced mood-piece, with great & highly artificial swamp sets which almost border the expressionistic - which seem to be always covered in fog that does not allow any daylight to shine through - that  greatly compliment to the film's spooky atmosphere. Also, Rosemary LaPlanche (Miss America 1941, who was also in Wisbar's Devil Bat's Daughter) gives a competent performance as a strong leading lady & the minimalistic effort to make a spooky spirit out of Charles Middleton (his face is just kept in the dark) works to great effect. A must-see for every horror-fan.

By the way, a semi-remake of Wisbar's earlier, German-produced Fährmann Maria (1936).

 

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