This blog is a place for Me to review classic British films (in particular horror films) by Hammer, Amicus and the like. But I will occasionally branch out and review international films as these are the international counterpart to the British films, some of which will include works by American International Pictures, Mario Bava et al. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Oblong Box


After being disfigured by a voodoo curse whilst in Africa, Edward Markham is locked away from the public in his brother, Julian's mansion. After an attempt to escape goes wrong, Edward accidentally gets buried alive, but fortunately for him some grave robbers dig him up and bring him to Dr Neuhartt who experiments on dead bodies. But Edward is still alive and blackmails the doctor into allowing him to stay at his home while he goes about taking care of business along the way causing havoc for the local people.

The Oblong Box is a 1969 American International Pictures production. It stars Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Rupert Davies. It was directed by Gordon Hessler. It is credited as being an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's story The Oblong Box, when in actuality it only bares the same title.

FOOL! The guy was warned several times not to get too close to Edward. Since his disfigurement he can't control his anger and can lash out. But no the guy still went close enough for Edward to grab him by the throat, luckily for him he's in league with Edward and they are both plotting his escape. So the strangling malarkey was just a threat. The guy's still an idiot though, he knows Edward is troubled and was warned several times to be careful.

After Edward escapes he begins taking care of business, thusly by killing people who have wronged him. Now I presume being stabbed is a nasty experience, but this guy has a great “being stabbed face” and from the look of his face it must have hurt yet not even a whimper of pain left his lips.

Poor Dr Neuhartt, everyone threatens to use the knowledge of his experiments against him. First, Edward blackmailed him into letting him stay at his house otherwise he'd tell the town about his methods of experimenting on stolen corpses. Then there's Sally the maid, who does the same when he tries to discharge her, she says she'd need money and that he best make it worth her while to leave otherwise she'll tell.

This film depicts what must be the secret origins of Sadomasochism, after all it's set in 1865. “You can leave your mask on, I don't mind.” says the prostitute to Edward who is parading around town wearing a red cloth mask.

WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY EVER LEARN?! DON'T FUCK WITH THE GUY WEARING THE CREEPY RED MASK. He'll end up cutting your throat or smashing a vase over your head. So whatever you do, DO NOT REMOVE HIS MASK! He doesn't like it.

Even by these type of films' standards the throat slitting effect is pretty poor. It's obviously getting sprayed from the knife. There's even a point were you can see the “blood” has been smudged on the victim's throat, and ends up just looking like a mucky mark. But the worst one is on Christopher Lee as he is at the time filling the screen so we can clearly see his throat hasn't been slit, it looks more like a nasty knick if anything. It looked best on the prostitute, but even then it didn't look great, I suppose at least when it was on her it didn't look like a smear.

Vincent Prices' Julian Markham is so impatient when knocking on someone's door. “Hello. Anybody there? Hello, Hello.” then just opens the door and walks in anyway. How rude.

The big reveal of Edward's face at the end was so naff. The film was made so cleverly as to not show his face at any point, we only see glimpses whether it be from the back of his head or the top of his head. And the build up was great, it left you imagining horrifying ways in which his face must look, due to people who see his face screaming and falling to the floor because their legs have gone weak from fear. It's even stated at one point that Edward's face is inside out, which added to the horror of how disfigured he must now be. So to see that his face instead looks like he has a slight case of Eczema or some form of rash accompanied by him keeping his eyes closed, was more than slightly disappointing. Infact at the very end after Edward has bitten Julian and it's revealed that he has passed on the disfigurement to him, we see this by the fact that the cheek on one side of his face has began to blister and presumably turn inside out, the effects on this were much better than the BIG ONE we were all looking forward to and also dreading (due to how extreme they made you think his face was going to appear.)

We don't get to see Edward's face before the voodoo curse is put upon him, this, I suspect, is because when audiences see his disfigured face they would then realize “Hey he looks pretty much the same except for the Eczema and the fact he's walking around with his eyes closed.” So for various characters to scream in fear of his so called “inside out face” is just uncalled for. The man has Eczema, so give him some ointment.

The big appeal of this film is that it stars not one but TWO horror legends; Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. The problem with that is they only appear in one scene together, and in that Christopher Lee's Dr Neuhartt is kind of in the middle of dying, so it's not a big exciting scene containing two great horror icons. It's certainly not what you would expect from a film that has acquired these two actors to star in it.

Overall, I'd certainly say that the film is watchable but nothing at all special. The story is decent enough, it keeps you guessing as to what Edward's appearance is going to be like, even if it is a disappointment. Regardless of the disappointment of Edward's face, the build up is great it keeps you pondering for the whole film. I also liked the twist at the end, the reason why the voodoo curse was put upon Edward, what he had done to deserve such a fate. It's just unfortunate that I found the film to be a disappointment. Just don't expect too much from it, infact watch it with no expectations otherwise you'll end up being disappointed with it like I was.

The Oblong Box 2/5

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