This is a blog which primarily gives some attention to movies that I find were overlooked (for whatever reason) or are simply underrated. I also comment on other, mainly movie-related issues as well. I welcome any suggestions for films to be added to this distinguished list.

One word of warning: The films listed below contain spoilers, so caution during reading is required.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Oblong Box (1969)

"I might find myself buying your pretty little body one day for a guinea or two." -Dr. Neuhartt. One of Michael Mann's best movies is Heat (1995), an exciting police drama which became noteworthy for its teaming of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino (they both starred in 1974's The Godfather Part II but shared no scenes). But it also has nice work from Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore at a time before their offscreen antics pissed away the goodwill they had established for themselves in the business. However, Pacino and De Niro only have two scenes and roughly 10 minutes of screentime together. That dynamic always reminded me of The Oblong Box, which was promoted as being the first film to team legends Vincent Price and Christopher Lee. But they only have a brief scene together. Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's story of the same name, the film begins in 1865. Julian Markham (Price) returns to England from Africa. His brother, Sir Edward (Alister Williamson), has been disfigured by an African voodoo tribe for a crime he allegedly committed against them. This prompts Julian to lock him in his room. However, Sir Edward attempts to escape by faking his death, thanks to a witchdoctor (Harry Baird) family lawyer Trench (Peter Arne) has contacted. However, Julian puts Sir Edward in the title box before Trench can do anything more. At the viewing of the body, Julian asks Trench to find another body to stand in for Sir Edward's, which leads to Trench and the witchdoctor killing one Tom Hacket (Maxwell Shaw). Sir Edward is buried and Hacket's body is thrown into a river. Julian promptly resumes his life by marrying the beautiful Elizabeth (Hilary Dwyer), but Sir Edward is later exhumed by graverobbers in the employ of Dr. Newhartt (Lee). Sir Edward revives shortly after the not-so-good doctor opens the casket and promptly blackmails Neuhartt into giving him shelter while he concocts his revenge on Trench. To that end, he covers his face with a crimson hood when he goes out. Neuhartt's maid Sally (Sally Geeson) takes pity on Sir Edward, which prompts Neuhartt to fire her. Ironically, she quickly finds employment with Julian, who has become suspicious of Trench's activities after he realizes that a friend found Becket's body in the river. Trench later informs him that Sir Edward was buried alive. Sir Edward's run in with drunks in town, which ends in murder, prompts Neuharrt to find ways to rid himself of him. Eventually, Sir Edward finds the witchdoctor and learns that he was punished becasue Julian killed a child during their time in Africa. The witchdoctor claims he cannot help Sir Edward and, after a fight, the latter returns to Neuharrt, whom he promptly kills after the doctor attempts to give him poison. Sally, upon hearing news of Sir Edward's activities, informs Julian of her knowledge of him, which prompts Julian to go to Neuharrt's where, dying, the doctor informs him that Sir Edward is going to Julian's home. The climax ends with Julian shooting Sir Edward, but being bitten by his brother before he dies. This, naturally, leads to Julian getting the same curse, to Elizabeth's horror. Both stars are great, although it would have been nice if they had more screen time together. Fortunately, they would reteam twice more: Scream and Scream Again (1969), which reunited both with this film's director, Gordon Hessler, and House of the Long Shadows (1983).

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