Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Body Snatcher (1945)

Director: Robert Wise

Writers: Robert Louis Stevenson, Philip MacDonald, Val Lewton

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henry Daniell, Edith Atwater, Russell Wade, Rita Corday, Sharyn Moffett, Donna Lee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: INVADED!...the sanctuary of the Dead! the Hero of Horror!...and the Master of Menace!

Plot: A ruthless doctor and his young prize student find themselves continually harassed by their murderous supplier of illegal cadavers.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

I'm a sucker for any variation on the Burke & Hare story of grave robbing, but only if it's set in the 19th century which this is.  Karloff is one sinister fucker in this picture and he's incredibly good at it, too.  Lugosi is great but he's barely used.  It's a shame he wasn't given better roles and he was relegated to minor parts just so they producers could have his name on the poster to sell tickets.  The rest of the cast does a fine job.  The score, art direction, camera work, etc are all very good.  It's so good that I'd love to see this in an old theater.  That would be tops.  There's even some great and creepy moments like when the street singer is suddenly silenced.  That was masterfully handled and completely off screen to maximize its effectiveness.  The Warner Bros. DVD I have comes with a commentary by Steve Haberman and director Robert Wise along with the theatrical trailer.  Another Val Lewton classic, I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE (1943), is the second feature on the disc which is a great film, too.

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