The Comedy of Terrors (1964)

Article #513 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 8-10-2002
Posting date: 1-3-2003

An undertaker supplements his income by proactively creating his own clients.

This horror comedy borrows more than just its title from Shakespeare; in fact, the whole script is written in blank verse, a somewhat audacious conceit in the twentieth century, much less in the script for a horror comedy. Even if you aren’t very familiar with blank verse, you might be able to notice a lilt to the dialogue that is like nothing else you’ve heard before in this type of movie. Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone seem to be particularly at home with this, plus Rathbone gets to quote endlessly from “MacBeth” throughout the movie. Aside from that, this fun horror comedy reunites Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff from THE RAVEN; Price and Lorre have the major roles, while Karloff has been consigned to a smaller role, that of Joyce Jameson’s decrepit father; however, as small roles go, this one is choice, and Karloff steals practically every scene he’s in, particularly during his eulogy, which may be Karloff’s finest moment of comic acting. Richard Matheson deserves kudos for the script, and Jacque Tourneur’s fine direction is also an asset. The movie also features a cameo by former comedy star Joe E. Brown, who also has had a little experience with Shakespeare; he appeared in the 1935 movie version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

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