THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1963)

PrintE-mail Written by John Knott


BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1963) / DIRECTOR: JACQUES TOURNEUR / SCREENPLAY: RICHARD MATHESON / STARRING: VINCENT PRICE, PETER LORRE, BASIL RATHBONE, BORIS KARLOFF, JOE E. BROWN, JOYCE JAMESON, BEVERLY POWERS (HILLS), ORANGEY THE CAT (CREDITED AS RHUBARB) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

We always approach horror-comedies with a great deal of trepidation; they so often fail to be either funny or frightening and when you miss both your benchmarks, that’s pretty much a bad movie. With the title like The Comedy of Terrors, this one certainly nailed its colours to the mast so it’d have be pretty special to avoid the all too frequent fate of these not-rare-enough cinematic beasts. Ooh, Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay? Why didn’t you say so? Oh alright then, we’ll give it a go...

We’re in 19th century America and Trumbull and Gillie (Price and Lorre) are the local undertakers who only actually have one coffin (so they have to chuck the corpse in the hole when everyone has left the funeral). To be fair, that’s a pretty decent gag, but we hope there’s more. They’re short of money and the landlord (Rathbone) is hassling them for rent so they decide to “hurry along” a few inevitable deaths to drum up business. So that’s your plot, but does it work? Well apart from the aforementioned Matheson on writing duties, we have no less than Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone and even Boris Karloff as Trumbull’s mad old father-in-law to deliver the laughs and scares. Apart from being horror royalty (two of that lot were in Son of Frankenstein and three were in that “historical” classic - Tower of London!) they were actually top-notch comedy actors. They had the timing, the delivery and the straight faces; you couldn’t go wrong with that lot. What’s more, they all deliver the goods with cracking performances. Throw in Joe E. Brown (you know him as Jack Lemmon’s “love interest” in Some Like It Hot – “Well, nobody’s perfect”) and this should be brilliant.

Unfortunately, it isn’t. The first inevitable problem is that it doesn’t function in any way as “horror”. So the best we can hope for is a decent black comedy. But it’s one of those ‘60s comedies that thinks it’s far cleverer than it really is (there were rather a lot of those). There are actually a couple of brilliant lines delivered expertly but there just aren’t enough to fill a half-hour comedy, let alone a feature film. Despite the cast’s sterling efforts to save the movie it just comes across as self-indulgent. A complete disaster? Well when you consider the talent on display, pretty much! This could have been the horror-comedy’s ‘60s moment to shine. As it was, we had to wait until Carry on Screaming’s Hammer send up. Nothing saves the day like Carry On and Hammer.

Not scary and not funny enough so you can probably live without this disc, but we will point out that the lush ‘60s sets look great on Blu-ray. If you want something undemanding with a Sunday afternoon hangover, it might serve your purposes.

Extras: Trailer, commentary, three documentaries and booklet
 


Suggested Articles:
Jamil Dehlavi’s Jinnah documents the trials and tribulations of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the man
With a tagline reading ‘Lies eventually catch up’, Malcolm Deegan’s sole feature outing as wri
The success of Easy Rider in 1969 took everyone by surprise and after it, the big studios scrambled
Raymond Burr's Ironside is back for more network crime solving in another 26 episodes for the fourth
scroll back to top

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in DVD / Blu-ray Reviews

JINNAH (1998) 02 December 2016

FRACTIONAL 02 December 2016

THE HIRED HAND (1971) 02 December 2016

IRONSIDE SEASON 4 02 December 2016

IRONSIDE SEASON 3 02 December 2016

STAR TREK: THE RODDENBERRY VAULT 02 December 2016

GHOST IN THE NOONDAY SUN 29 November 2016

AKIRA: THE COLLECTOR’S EDITION 29 November 2016

ASTERIX: THE MANSIONS OF THE GODS 29 November 2016

KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE 29 November 2016

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner

      
      
 
...