HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Birth of the Dragon
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Thelma
Stratton
February
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Body Snatcher, The You'll Have Had Your Corpse, Then?Buy this film here.
Year: 1945
Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Boris Karloff, Henry Daniell, Bela Lugosi, Edith Atwater, Russell Wade, Rita Corday, Sharyn Moffett, Donna Lee, Robert Clarke, Mary Gordon, Milton Kibbee
Genre: Horror
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Edinburgh, 1831 and there's a little girl, Georgina Marsh (Sharyn Moffett) who has been paralysed from the waist down for a number of months, and she is visiting the city's medical academy, taken there by her mother (Rita Corday) who believes the establishment's chief surgeon, Dr MacFarlane (Henry Daniell) will be able to restore the girl's ability to walk. They are brought there by a cabman, Mr Gray (Boris Karloff), who is very kind to the child - but if only they knew what he and the doctor schemed, as they both collude in the criminal practice of body snatching.

This film marked the last time that Karloff and Bela Lugosi, partners in chills for nearly ten productions, would work together, and thereafter if Karloff was ever asked about his erstwhile co-star he would only say "Poor, poor Bela," and refuse to be drawn any further on the subject. Certainly Lugosi didn't get much of a role here, despite being second billed, though his last scene with the leading man was one of their best as Gray conspires to murder Lugosi's dim assistant Joseph, a stark example of how corrupt the soul of Gray has become. But really the collaboration to savour here was between Karloff and Daniell.

Gray makes it plain that he believes he and MacFarlane are closely linked thanks to the little business that he carries out for the doctor, something the medical man resists, recoiling in disgust that they need each other far more than he could ever be willing to admit. And yet, neither are entirely evil, as the script points out that they are both capable of decency: seeing how Gray treats little Georgina so well makes his killing of the Greyfriars Bobby type of dog shortly after to get at the corpse in the fresh grave all the more brutal. And while she recognises that MacFarlane contains darkness within his character, he does think he is pursuing a course of good.

Not only by teaching his students how to save lives and cure their patients, but by performing surgery himself, though he takes some persuading to return to the operating table. He does eventually carry out the procedure on the girl in a wince-inducing scene when you know there was no anaesthetic being used (she passes out, thankfully), but even then the child refuses to walk, as if MacFarlane has to make a grand sacrifice before light can return to the dark streets of Scotland's capital (not that anyone in the cast tries the accent). Needless to say this is richly atmospheric, although being based on a Robert Louis Stevenson story, itself inspired by the true life Burke and Hare murders, some were wont at the time to criticise this for being too stuffy and literary.

Certainly for producer Val Lewton, here creating a run of classic horrors in the forties, he was aiming high and rewrote the script to reflect his ambiguous attitude towards morality in his characters, but watching it now there's so much to relish about this low budget work that it's hard to see what the problems people had with it were. Karloff in particular offers a career best performance, not bad at all considering how excellent he could be, but here his silky villain has an insinuating quality that really gets under the skin, not only of MacFarlane but of the viewer as well. Robert Wise, too, earning one of his first directing assignments after graduating from editing was obviously very capable in creating precisely what Lewton had ordered, with such scenes as the beggar girl's death, the reaction of the cat to another murder, and the most famous part where a corpse appears to come to life, all vivid and justly winning The Body Snatcher its classic reputation. Music by Roy Webb.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1390 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Robert Wise  (1914 - 2005)

Versatile American director, a former editor (he worked on Citizen Kane) who began with some great B-movies (Curse of the Cat People, The Body Snatcher, Born to Kill) and progressed to blockbusters (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Star Trek: The Motion Picture). He won Oscars for the two musical successes.

Along the way, there were classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, exposes like I Want to Live! and spooky gems like The Haunting. Other films include Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Sand Pebbles, Star!, The Andromeda Strain and Audrey Rose. His last film was Rooftops, another musical.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
The Elix
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
   

 

Last Updated: